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  1. Bending Pliers for Photo-Etched parts (MTS-029) Meng Model via Creative Models Ltd. Successfully handling Photo-Etch is a task that requires some fairly specific tools, and to get the most out of it you need to obey the mantra "use the right tools for the job". With this in mind, PE bending tools should be on your shopping list (really? ), and while PE bending brakes are essential for some jobs, they're not suitable for every job. PE pliers are useful for smaller parts, and for those where you have to bend parts close to each other, such as tiny boxes etc. You can use standard flat-bladed pliers with some success, but they generally tend to be on the larger side that aren't always useful. Even the Tamiya PE pliers are a bit wide for some jobs, so this new tool from Meng could well fit a gap in the market. Arriving in a well-appointed brown card box, inside is a high-density foam liner with the shape of the pliers cut out and the pliers well stuffed into the hole. They take a little effort to get out, and once free you can see that they have very narrow blades, at only 1mm at the very tip. The overall shape, especially the handles have a Xuron feeling, the jaws are sprung, and the red plastic handles (which look more orange in the pictures) are glued in place with a strong epoxy to prevent them from creeping off during use. The two blades are bent so that they mesh directly over each other, with about 20mm of useable bending length from front to back. The Meng logo and product code are etched into one side of the jaws behind the riveted pivot point, which allows zero play between the jaws for a positive action. The jaws are made from quality tool steel, and the springs should last a lifetime, making relaxing your grip as simple as opening your hand. To try them out I used an old Reheat PE set that includes WWII RAF seats and belts, bending up a seat with raised detail on the inside. The blades are easy to locate on the bending line, and grip is firm. With half-thickness PE next to the fold, it's wise to bend against a flat surface, such as a rule or a desk to prevent the weaker thin part from bending, and the blade's square edge results in a nice clean bend. The seat took a matter of seconds to fold up, and as you can see in the picture I didn't apply any glue to the joins, as this wasn't a test of my modelling prowess. I can see this being very useful for folds that have narrow gaps between them, such as equipment boxes often found in Eduard sets, which makes it a very useful part of your PE handling tool kit. Add a bending brake, some fine tweezers, a sticky wax pencil, some fine files for removing attachment point stubs and a few grades of super glue, and PE should present much less of a challenge. Practice also helps immensely as does magnification, so even if you initially struggle, you'll soon get used to the process, and wonder what the fuss was about. I have slightly chunky mitts, and they fall to hand well, being on the small side of comfortable, with the handles just about reaching the edge of my palm when held ready for action. This should minimise any dropping incidents, even though I've got a bit of an issue with that sort of thing due to my advancing age and a few medical conditions. Each handle has a small hole through it, which would permit the use of a lanyard if your grip is worse than mine, as a fall blade first onto a hard surface could be difficult to recover from. Conclusion A very useful part of any modeller's PE handling tool kit that will pay dividends once you get used to using them. Review sample courtesy of
  2. Su-122-54 Tank Destroyer Late Type (37042) 1:35 MiniArt Not to be confused with the unsuccessful Su-122 of WWII era, the Su-122-54 (Object 600) was still an armoured tank destroyer without a turret but built on the more recent T-54 chassis as its basis, although this was lengthened slightly to accommodate the alterations that included a fixed casemate for the gun, this modified chassis having a larger space between the third and forth set of wheels. The gun had limited elevation and traverse like many other tank-killers and Self-Propelled Guns (SPGs) to allow fine tuning of aim. It was fitted with the D-49 L/48.4 rifled main gun with 35 rounds carried onboard, and a pair of KPVT 14.5mm heavy machine guns with 600 rounds, one mounted coaxially to the barrel, the other on the commander's station on the roof, which rotated to give fire all round. The commander also had a TCD-09 stereoscopic rangefinder available for targeting, and could be used out as far as 5000m at extreme range. They were only produced in small quantities (under 100 numbers are hard to find), and were kept well away from prying eyes for much of their career, with NATO barely mentioning them in reports, despite them playing a part in some of the major exercises and deployments of the 60s most notably Operation Danube the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. In fact the whole development, deployment and retirement seems to have been largely ignored by NATO. If any modellers are interested an interesting article on the gun can be found in the July/September 2016 issue of Fort Benning's Armour publication here. The Kit This is a new tooling from the masters of armour at MiniArt, using some of the sprues from their successful T-54/55 series, and arrives after the Early version we reviewed here. It arrives in their standard sized box, and inside are a lot of sprues of varying sizes. There are 55 sprues of grey styrene, two in clear, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, decal sheet and instruction booklet, with colour profiles at the rear for paint and markings. If you're not familiar with MiniArt kits, 55 sprues might seem a lot, but if you scroll down to the pictures you'll see that some are small, and often there are upwards of dozens of the same sprue. If you have built a T-54, you will recognise the construction of the lower hull, which is achieved by adding the suspension mounts to the lower panel, threading the torsion bars through the hull, attaching all the suspension parts such as the swing-arms, dampers and such to the side, then putting the sides with separate final drive housing and rear bulkhead in place. Between the two sides is a firewall, which is there as a structural element, as there is no interior to this kit. That said, you do get a full-length breech, which is assembled with its big coaxial machine gun and slipped through the big bolted mantlet and then set aside while the casemate is made up. The roof of the casemate is first to be put together, with four hatches on the roof, mating with the other sides before the whole assembly is placed on the top of the hull. Worthy of note are the two diagonal corners to the casemate, which are separate parts that normally leads to worries about alignment. MiniArt have sensibly provided a pair of angled plates to glue inside the joints, which ensures that the sides and diagonals obtain the correct angle to mate with the glacis plate, which by now has the mantlet and breech installed. The wide fenders are also glued in place at this stage, with large tabs holding them to the top of the hull at the front, and two pins that locate into the side of the engine compartment, which is slightly raised compared to the front. The rectangular hatch sports the commander's periscope, and the larger round hatch at the rear has the huge KPVT machine gun attached to it, with twin magazines, one each side on a sturdy mount. The engine deck is made up in three sections, with louvres and hatches, plus small parts, some of which are PE for scale fidelity. A large storage box fits onto the deck once it is in place, and the rear bulkhead is decorated with towing hitches, rails and pioneer tools, plus a pair of large mud guards with separate supports on each side. The remaining two hatches are fitted, a number of supports are glued along the length of the fenders, and stowage boxes plus fuel tanks are added to any free space, as is the large side-facing exhaust on the port side. At the front, the fenders are finished off with front guards, which have PE stiffeners inside, and the single-part barrel is inserted into the keyed slot in the mantlet, with the outer saukopf-like section slid over before the two-part hollow muzzle-brake is closed up around the tip of the barrel. The vehicle now needs some road wheels, which are created in pairs with separate hub caps that hide the axle that also holds the multi-part drive sprocket and idler wheels. There are 10 pairs of road wheels needed, and two of each of the idler and drive sprockets, one for each side. At this stage various small parts are added around the hull, with a choice of day or night operations headlights on the diagonal sections of the glacis, more pioneer tools, additional stowage, aerial masts, plumbing for the additional fuel cells, and a rolled up tarpaulin that is attached to the rear of the casemate with PE straps. A common theme to Soviet era armour was the unditching beam and additional fuel drums on the rear, which were carried over to the Su-122-54, with PE straps and fuel caps that are shown from other angles in scrap diagrams to ensure you place them correctly. The drus on the late version are larger and much mre in common with what you expect to see on Soviet armour. The towing cables are something you will have to supply from your own sources, with a requirement of two lengths of 1.1mm diameter with lengths of 175mm each, but you do get the towing eyes to use with them. Now to the tracks! Each of the 90 links per side is attached by four sprue gates, and they are located in the pit of the concave track-pin tunnel, so will require extra care during clean-up. This looks to be a bit of a shore to sort, but no doubt after a few the modeller will sort out a rhythm. Detail on the tracks is staggering, with individual casting serials in the depths of each one, and happily no ejector pin marks to contend with. Markings There are three markings options available from the box, and the profiles are split between the inside front and rear covers of the instruction booklet. You can build one of the following: Soviet Army, Operation "Danube" Prague 1968 (As on the box top) **Though its worth noting none were actually deployed to Prague** Soviet Army 60s, (winter camo) marked white 401 Soviet Army (summer camo) marked white 214 Decals are printed by Decograph, which as usual have good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion Whether you've heard of this Tank Destroyer before or not, it has a certain presence, and the angular casemate is appealing as well as a useful feature for deflecting shots away from the crew. The detail levels are excellent, with PE and clear parts to give it extra realism. The only minor gripe is the positioning of the sprue gates on the track links, but with some careful cutting and making good, no-one will ever appreciate your effort! It's typical modern MiniArt, who have made producing great kits look easy. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  3. Take One More Grenade! (MB3564) 101st Airborne (Air Assault Division, Europe 1944-45 1:35 Masterbox via Creative Models The 101st were the elite light infantry of the US forces on D-Day, and were amongst the first in and last out, earning their reputation as "the tip of the spear", and their exploits were documented in the HBO series Band of Brothers in some detail. This figure set from Masterbox depicts four Screaming Eagles in an urban situation about to chuck a grenade into a building while stacked up outside it. Arriving in a de facto standard figure-sized box, there is one sprue of grey styrene inside, and the instructions are printed on the rear of the box along with a paint chart and sprue layout. Sculpting is fine as you would expect from Masterbox, and figure breakdown is intended to add as much realism to the set as possible, with separate heads, torso, legs and arms, plus the lower parts of their smocks, bags, pouches, weapons, and helmets all being individual parts to maximise customisation of the figures' look. One figure is holding open the door with his rifle in the other hand, but he can alternately be posed ready to smack someone with the butt of his rifle, which is poised high in both hands. The grenade thrower has legs planted apart for stability and the pineapple behind him ready to go, with a lightweight folding-stock M1 Carbine in his free hand. The other two are ready to pile in with a Thompson and BAR to one side. As well as the aforementioned bags and pouches, there are also pistols, water bottles, first-aid kits, entrenching tools, bayonets and even helmet straps with chin-cups for the mesh-netted helmets. The instructions on the rear of the box cover construction, but as the figures are printed in a sepia tone, they're not much use when it comes to painting, other than by the inclusion of the paint chart in Vallejo, LifeColor, Tamiya and Mastercolor. There is a QR code printed above the chart, but that's a generic URL to visit their site, and drilling down to information on this set doesn't yield any further information. It's a minor complaint on what is a good set, added to which is my perennial wish that figure sets in general would include decals for rank and unit badges more frequently. There are plenty of references out there for uniform colours however, and if you really want badges etc., they can be sourced from Archer, or other companies. Conclusion A dynamic set of four figures with all the gear that a paratrooper would carry once landed in France to begin the liberation of Europe. If included in a diorama they would give a human scale as well as a dynamic feel to any building they're assaulting. Add some straps from tape or foil and you're away! Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  4. RAAF F/A-18C Hornet(85809) 1:48 Hobby Boss The F-18's humble beginnings as the loser of the light fighter contest that gave the US Air Force the F-16 Fighting Falcon were soon left behind when it was decided that something a little more rugged was needed for the Navy and Marine Corps, who would need to fly from carriers and wanted to carry warloads at supersonic speeds. Single and two-seater variants were offered, with the A and C being the solo pilots, and the B and C the two-seaters, all of which were combat capable. The larger E/F Super Hornets were later created to extend the capabilities of the airframes, with a substantially larger airframe and load carrying capability. The US have recently withdrawn their Cs from service, but the aircraft carries on in service with other operators and is likely to continue to do so for some considerable time. Now I'm going to stop talking about Cs, as Australia has As and Bs, with no Cs being held in inventory by the Australian Air Force that I'm aware of, which is further backed up by a quick check of their own website. Checking the registry for the two airframes depicted on the decal sheet shows them as block 20 and 22 Model A Hornets, with a fair amount of corroborating evidence backing that up. They were delivered to the RAAF in the late 80s, and are getting toward the end of their service lives now, which is being teased out until the long awaited F-35As are in service, and at time of writing the first few have reached Australian soil. The Hornet airframes will be sold on where possible, with a deal already having been made with Canada for some of them. The Kit With an inauspicious start due to the misnaming of the type, I fully expected an F-18C to be in the box, which although ostensibly similar to the A, has some differences that we'll attempt to cover later in the review. Firstly, it should be noted that this is not a new tooling, but a rebox of an earlier kit with new decals showing two display birds wearing Anniversary markings. Inside the fairly standard Hobby Boss box are eight sprues in grey styrene, a sprue and a separate part in clear, two decal sheets, the instruction booklet and a glossy full-colour markings placement and painting guide. First impressions are that some of the smaller parts are a little rough in places, with less attention paid to placement of ejector pin marks, and the occasional rough bit of tooling, however the main airframe is well detailed and from looking at builds of previous boxings of the kit online, it certainly looks the part. As an aside I wouldn't set myself up as an F-18 expert (far from it), but I've been doing a bit of research and have noted what I've found along the way through this review to help anyone with this model create a more accurate version if they're so minded. If you have access to an F-18 guru, I would suggest you seek their advice regarding the differences between the C and A variants of the Legacy Hornet, as I'm a fallible human (of sorts). The build begins with the cockpit, with the Martin Baker SJU-NACES seat built up from side panels, cushions, headbox and ejection lever but without any harnesses, so you can either make your own or pick up some suitable aftermarket. The cockpit tub is a single part, with a HOTAS arrangement and instrument panel added, with seven decals for the consoles and panel to bring out the nicely moulded detail without painstaking painting. At the same time, the nose gear bay is made up from a roof with moulded-in detail, and two detailed sides. It slots into the lower fuselage part, and is joined by the cockpit, which simply sits on top of it. There is no sidewall detail, but little will be seen unless you squint really hard. The upper fuselage includes the wings and the Leading Edge Extension (LEX), with the lowers added before the halves are joined, plus a small portion of the tip of the LEX, after which it can be mated with the lower, which locates with a number of pins. The main gear bays are moulded into the lower fuselage, and are quite nicely done, as is the rest of the external detail. The landing gear can be left off until after painting, which is always nice, and is built up from single part legs, with additional struts, linkages and dampers fitted as appropriate. The main tyres are supplied in halves, while the twin nose gear wheels are each single parts. These are put to the side and added further on in the build, which in fairness does seem to jump around a little. The nose of the model is a separate section, with the front bulkhead of the nose gear moulded into the two halves, leaving a seamline unless you put them together carefully. A small insert fits into a depression in the nose, and a group of sensors and aerials are installed underneath. Parts J1 and J2 are shown fitted, but should be left off for accuracy's sake, as they appear on the C. This is again the case with two more bulges J43 and J44, which are shown installed at the front of the fuselage where it joins the nose. The intake trunks, elevators, gear legs and arrestor hook are all added with the airframe inverted, although many people will leave much of this off until later. As yet the wings are bereft of the large flaps and slats, which are added next, along with the intake lips, which are made up with their splitter plates and a spacer, then inserted into the trunk later on. There are no engine fronts or blanking plates, but little will be seen down there without a flashlight. The exhausts are fitted to lengths of trunking that are split vertically, with ribbed detail visible inside, to which a blanking plate with moulded-in afterburner details added. The exhaust cans are a single part with the notched petals moulded into the surface, which many of the Aussie birds have. There are two of course, and they slot into the fuselage side-by-side. Just like the real thing, the kit has a cockpit aperture suitable for the two-seater, which is covered over with a turtle-deck with equipment under the real one, with a spine extension that completes the contouring of the area. The 3-part HUD goes on the coaming and is covered by the windscreen, and the canopy is attached to the frame before it is fixed in the open or closed position using the twin legs at the rear - this has a central seam on the outside due to the "blown" shape, so sand and polish this away if you're feeling brave. There are two more parts J9 and J10 here that aren't required for the RAAF aircraft, so leave those in the box after checking your references and fill the little marks that show their location. The tail fins are both handed, and have a central third sensor fairing in their trailing edge above the moulded-in rudders, which should be removed to backdate it back to an A, with plenty of pics on the net to help you with that if you fancy the challenge, and if you're looking for more work, a few small appliqué stiffener panels could be added for extra fidelity – again, check your references. At this point the nose is also added, with a slot helping with alignment. There are a number of antennae and blade aerials to fit along the spine, after which the airframe is ostensibly complete aside from the gear bay doors, some of which will need a little work to get them looking nice, and the crew access ladder that pops out of the port LEX and is made up from three parts. The flap actuator fairings should be fitted too before you begin adding pylons, and these are all separate and will sadly need adapting if you wish to pose the flaps deployed, which is a shame as just a few additional parts could have made that a breeze. The airbrake between the tail fins can be posed open by using the ram to hold it in position, with some detail within the bay if you choose to do so. Before you can decide which of the supplied weapons to use, you will need to construct the pylons, with four identical units for under the wings, and a centreline pylon, plus the moulded-in wingtip rails and separate adapters for the Sidewinders. There is a fairly generous helping of munitions on the two sprues, as follows: 2 x AIM-9L Sidewinders 2 x Mk.82 bombs on dual ejector rack 1 x AAR-50 thermal navigation pod with fairing 2 x AGM-84E SLAM Cruise Missile 1 x AN/ASQ-173 laser tracker pod with fairing 2 x AGM-88 HARM anti-radar missile 2 x AIM-7 Sparrow A2A missile 1 x AN/AAS-38A Nitehawk FLIR pod with fairing 2 x JDAM laser guided bombs 2 x GBU-10 Paveway II laser guided bombs 2 x Fuel tanks A diagram on the rear of the instructions shows where each weapon can be carried, but check your references to see what kind of loads are carried in the real world if you're looking for accuracy. Markings The two colour schemes included with this kit are likely to be the biggest draw, because they're quite colourful and appealing. The decals are up to Hobby Boss's usual standards, with decent registration, colour density and sharpness, which is nice. A21-26 - 20 years of F/A-18 scheme The modeller will need to paint the dark blue topside to match the red and white pinstriping, but the dark grey walkway sections are supplied as decals, so there's that! Most pictures show the airframe having five bird-slicers in front of the windscreen however, which isn't an option on this kit. They stand out because they are painted grey and appear just in front of the central white star on the nose. You might want to check your references and consider scratch building the strakes if it bothers you. It's a high gloss finish, so preparation and gloss varnishing after painting and decal will make or break the finish. A21-35 – 30 Years Anniversary A more straight forward scheme with darker grey topsides over a light grey, with red tails. You will need to paint the tails and apply the stars and 30 year logo, which is a good thing, as decals sometimes don't settle down well on the edges of flying surfaces. The instructions note that the leading edges and tips of the inner faces only are red, with the rest grey. The arrow on the spine is broken down into three parts, so alignment will be key here too, and this aircraft wasn't quite as pristine as A21-26, with some difference in tone between panels here and there to give the weathering fans a bit of leeway. This airframe also seems to have the bird-slicers on its nose, so break out the styrene strip! Conclusion It's an older kit, although 2007 isn't all that long ago unless you've been waiting for a bus since then. This does show in places, but thankfully they're not too many, and easily fixed. The biggest head-scratcher is the marking of the kit as an F/A-18C, but as that's not exactly a massive issue to get around, with only one aspect (the tail fairings) requiring any scratch-building (plus the bird-slicers), it's just a bit of an "oopsie" for HB's people, and a case of not paying 100% attention when putting the package together, or hoping against hope that we won't notice. With these aspects aside however, it's not too tricky to make a decent model from it. Review sample courtesy of
  5. Magach 6B Gal Batash Israeli Main Battle Tank (TS-040) 1:35 Meng Model via Creative Models The Magach name has been used for a number of tanks over the years, based upon the numerous Patton tanks from the M48 to the M60, which is probably the cause of some confusion, although calling four tanks Patton confuses me already, so why not continue? The 6B was based upon the newer M60A1 chassis, with modernisation from the base model, the fitment of the Gal fire control system, and passive appliqué armour that gave it a rather Merkava-like profile. These were in response to combat performance issues during the major conflicts such as the Yom Kippur and Lebanon, where their resources were seriously depleted due to some design defects, such as the location of flammable liquids in high risk areas and insufficient armour. Initially the armour issue was remedied by Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA), but as this can be seriously lethal to accompanying troops, the Gal Batash switched to 4th generation composite armour to reduce the potential hazard when standing close by. The ongoing upgrades eventually led to the Magach 7, and these in turn were replaced in the early 2000s by Merkavas. The chassis of the Magach is still in use however as the new Pereh missile carrier, which uses the main hull, and is disguised to look very much like a tank, despite its non-functional barrel and the 12 missiles it carries within. The Kit This is another new tooling from Meng, who have a growing line of Israeli equipment in their catalogue partly due to their links with Desert Eagle Publishing. Inside the standard satin-effect Meng box are fifteen sprues, M2 machine gun breech, hull and turret parts in sand coloured styrene, a flexible sprue in the same colour, a clear sprue, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) parts, a tree of black poly-caps, a length of braided wire, decal sheet and the instruction booklet, plus a separate colour and marking guide. It's a Meng tooling, so the detail is excellent, and there is plenty of clever moulding to improve that further without upping the part count unnecessarily, such as the super-finely moulded muzzles for the crew served weapons such as the M2 Browning derivative. The surface of the armour is also textured where appropriate, either as cast, or anti-slip on the horizontal(ish) surfaces, and there are lots of crisp weld-lines depicted too, especially on the big hull part. It's also nice to see a complete package with PE and material for use as towing cables, so that the modeller doesn't have to lay out additional cash or go scrabbling through their spares bin to complete the model. The tracks are individual links with pins in sub-sprues to ease construction and a clear jig to hold them in place during the building process. Do not adjust your set: The sprue above really is that wobbly Construction begins with the road wheels, which are made in pairs with a poly-cap trapped between them and have separate tyres, which will please anyone wanting to avoid cutting paint lines between the parts. The return rollers are in pairs too, but these have their tyres moulded-in due to their size. Finally, the drive sprockets comprise three parts with a poly-cap inside, all of which will aid adding and removing them during painting and track construction. The lower hull has a set of S-shaped blocks fitted to the floor, which later receive the torsion bars for the suspension, while the side-skirt stand-offs and suspension detail are added around the outside, together with the final drive housings. There are even individual casting codes for the hulls supplied as PE plates that attach to the rear of the hull. The torsion bars are made up with their swing-arms and stub axles, then slid in through the hull to rest in their mounts that were previously fixed to the hull floor, and here you will need to be careful to put the right ones in the correct holes. Some additional damping is needed, and these are added along the way, then the wheels can be added for the first time, and the rear bulkhead (lower) decorated with towing hitches etc. Now for the top of the hull, which begins with the glacis plate and turret ring section, which are moulded as a single part with some nice texture. Some holes are drilled in the underside and a couple of bits are removed, then the driver's hatch and some lifting eyes are fitted long with the vision blocks and another casting number from PE. The angled rear deck is then joined with the front and they are both mated to the lower hull, then festooned with all the grilles that are found on the M60's engine deck, and that's quite a few, including the little exhaust insert grille on the right rear. At the front, the lower glacis plate is added with some substantial brackets, presumably for a mine plough or an entrenching tool, then the additional keel armour is placed "over the top" of the underside, and a few more shackles are added. The fender parts are next up, and they are decorated with stowage boxes and the air cleaners then added to the sides of the hulls, being held in place by slots and tabs, and some glue of course! The upper glacis gets a pack of appliqué armour blocks and the rear is finished off before the v-shaped styrene front towing cables are attached together and draped over the armour, then joined by the fender guards and the front light clusters. Tracks. They're always there on a tank, and everyone wants to know whether they're easy, hard or somewhere in between. As previously mentioned, the tracks are individual links, and are spread across four identical sprues along with the tiny track pins that are moulded in groups of six and are designed to be mated to the links still attached to their sprue rails. The links have four sprue gates each that are placed upon the curved sections where the links join, so clean-up doesn't have to be 100% perfect, just good enough not to interfere with the next link along. The click loosely together, and you put them on the jig in groups of eight, close the top part over them and then slide the grouped track pins into place, taking care to ensure you have the links in the jig the correct way. The sprue rail is then cut off, which is best done with a brand new #11 blade to ensure a tidy break on each pin. Each track run has 101 links, so you're in for a bit of work, but that's tracks for you! The runs are completed by adding a single pin to the final joint, which will have to be done manually, so prepare the tweezers and rest easy knowing there are spares in case the first few ping off into the ether. The side skirts are there to hide all your hard work on the tracks, and these too have armoured panels, the front two of which protect the fighting compartment, so are of the composite variety and thicker than the others. They attach to a rail that has hangers between it and the panels, and once both are complete, they glue to the sides of the hull, completing the lower half of the model. The turret is a shell (excuse pun) with no interior, and as such has no gun breech, but instead has a short tube that pivots as the gun would, slowed down by a pair of poly-caps to avoid droopy-barrel syndrome. The upper half is glued in place on top of the lower after drilling some 1mm holes to accept some of the additional armour and suchlike, but the inclusion of casting texture and the original turret shape suggests that this may later be seen as an M60 kit, but only time will tell. The mantlet, lifting eyes, mushroom vents plus hatches, radio antenna masts, and a flexible mantlet enclosure that's on the flexible sprue fits around the gaps, and keeps out the abrasive sand on the real thing. Either side of the mantlet are a pair of prominent smoke grenade launcher packs, which have the 10 grenades moulded in place, and have an outer box and mounting brackets added to fit at the correct angle. The armour package changes the look of the turret noticeably, with a more Merkava-like double sloped front that is built up from individual panels before being applied to the turret cheeks, and a modular pack that attaches to the top of the turret in clusters around the important hatches and vents. The commander's cupola has a movable hatch and a collection of vision blocks fitted, plus lifting eyes and a large hinge-pin before it is slotted into its hole in the deck, which remains mobile and secures in place with a bayonet fitting on the cupola ring. The front sighting box with covers and back-up optical sight are added to the turret top along with a large stowage box and spare ammo for the turret machine guns, and down the sides are cleats for more cables, plus a tread-plate steps that make getting on and off the turret easier for those with shorter legs. Additional fuel and stowage are attached to the bustle, with styrene rails and a PE mesh floor, plus a pair of very well moulded ID panels that fix to the rear and sides of the bustle, and have some very believable creases and folds that are different on each one for more realism. The final towing cable drapes round the rear of the turret, and is made up from the included braided wire and styrene eyes, resting in a set of hooks around the bustle, then hooking around the cleats at the sides. The main gun has a complex cooling jacket that doesn't lend itself to a metal barrel, so a two-part styrene barrel is provided that shouldn't take much in the way of clean-up, and has a separate hollow muzzle that has rifling moulded-in. The recoil bag is moulded in flexible styrene and has all the concertina ribs moulded into it, slipping over the rear of the barrel before it is fitted and the remainder of the visible mantlet is covered over by the platform that will receive the M2 machine gun remote station. This is built up next, and appears to have been moulded with an anachronism in the shape of the barrel-changing handle, which is also shown sitting up vertically on the barrel. This shouldn't generally be there as it was phased out after Vietnam, and would hang below the barrel as it rotates freely when in place. The breech isn't attached to any sprues, so take care not to lose it, and choose one of the alternative barrels that you will find on the small weapons sprue. Many Magachs also didn't have the conical flash-hider, but some did, so check your references. The gun has a small mount, twin spade-grips and a large dump bag on the right side to receive the spent brass, and an ammo box on the left. Staying with the crew-served weapons, there are also two FN MAG mounts for the commander and loader hatches, which is a derivation from the American M249 and British GPMG, and has a prominent carry handle that should flop down to the right when not in use. I'm reliably informed by a gent that has fired one, that if the handle is vertical, the barrel is likely to try to follow the first few rounds downrange! It's a simple matter to cut them off and reposition them, and unlike the M2, they have solid muzzles that you might want to try and drill out while you're messing round with them. Good luck, as it's not easy at that size. The commander's gun has a large searchlight and a big box mag attached, while the loader's is on a flexible pintle mount due to its position on the far left of the turret. With these parts in place, the turret and hull are joined with a bayonet fitting on the turret ring holding both parts together. Done! Markings In this box you get two markings options, both of which are Sinai Grey, an elusive shade of grey/sand that you can happily now get bottled, rather than having to mix your own. Meng's collaboration with AK Interactive and the new(ish) Gunze Acrysion codes are given in the instructions, but as everyone seems to have an Israeli paint set these days, it shouldn't be too hard to find the correct shades if you don't have those to hand. From the box you can build one of the following: Tank 10 Gimel, 2nd Battalion, 401st Brigade, IDF near the international border with the Gaza Strip Tank from 9th "Eshet" Battalion, 401st Brigade, IDF in the centre of the Samaria region, August 1998 The decal sheet is small and printed in China in black and white, with red used only for the Meng logo. Registration, sharpness and colour density are all up to scratch, and the carrier film is relatively thin and cut close to the printing, so should go down well with your choice of decal solutions. Conclusion A highly detailed tooling of one of Israel's Main Battle Tanks from not so long ago. There's lots of scope for weathering, and the level of detail out of the box will doubtless be enough for the majority of modellers, due to the quality of the tooling. That said, if you want a covered bustle stowage bin and smoke launchers, read on. Very highly recommended. Israel Main Battle Tank Magach 6B Gal Batash Fully Loaded Rear Basket & Closed Smoke Grenade Launchers 1:35 Meng Model via Creative Models This aftermarket set from Meng gives the modeller the option of depicting a bustle with a full complement of personal equipment, covered in a tarpaulin to keep out the desert sand that gets everywhere. It also provides the covers for the smoke grenade launchers at the front, which are often covered up for the same reasons. The set arrives in a small box, and inside are five resin parts on easily removed casting blocks, plus an instruction sheet. The bustle is shown fully covered up at the top and sides, with the main part a C-shaped back and sides, with the mesh floor depicted as another resin part that is shown upside-down on the instructions. You use some kit parts for the rails along the back and the cleats for the towing cables. The topside is the final part of the bustle, and all the parts apart from the bottom are covered with realistically draped creases and folds that suggest the contents. The smoke dischargers fit onto the kit back plates and stand-offs, with a nicely realised and tailored canvas cover over the top portion of each one. Superb detail throughout and a very realistic texture that will make your Magach look more lived in. It's not cheap, but it's definitely good. Review sample courtesy of
  6. 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
  7. TACAM T-60 Romanian 76mm SPG. INTERIOR KIT 1:35 MiniArt (35240) The T-60 was the result of the ongoing development of light tanks that had started well before WWII. This particular tank started development in 1938 as an attempt to replace the T-26, T-40, the failed T-46 project and the T-50. Whilst such a large number were produced, it was hated by all who had to deal with it – all except the Germans, who found it to be a substandard and underwhelming opponent, and a rather nice ammunition carrier or gun towing tractor, once captured. As a result of its poor armour, substandard armament and sluggish performance, it was more dangerous to its crews than anybody else, earning it the title Bratskaya Mogila Na Dovoikh, literally: “a brother’s grave for two.” The basic design was completed in a mere fifteen days, and Astrov, seconded by Lieutenant Colonel V.P. Okunev, wrote to Stalin contrasting the advantages of the mass-producible T-60 with the more complicated T-50, which had already received the go-ahead. An inspection from a senior minister resulted in two decisions: firstly, the 12.7 mm (0.5 in) machine gun was to be replaced with a 20 mm (0.79 in) ShVAK, although it was still inadequate against the Panzer IIIs and IVs that the T-60 would almost certainly engage whilst there was a shortage of T-34s. Secondly, the Main Defence Committee (GKO), headed by Stalin, ordered 10,000 T-60s to be produced immediately. Some sources have claimed that Stalin’s interest in the vehicle is because he attended the vehicle’s final trials in person. The displacement of the Soviet industry in 1941 disrupted production and further refinement of the T-60. In autumn, Zavod Nr 37’s work on the T-60 was transferred to Zavod Nr 38 at Kirov and GAZ in Gorki. Shortly after, industrial evacuations continued, and GAZ was the sole producer of the T-60. In 1942, the T-60’s frontal armour was increased to 35 mm (1.37 in), which was still inadequate and made the tank more sluggish. The GAZ-203 engine gave the T-60 theoretical speeds of 44 km/h (27 mph) on road and 22 km/h (14 mph) off-road, but this was always difficult to achieve as a result of horrifically bad mud and snow. Replacing the spoked road wheels on the 1941 model with all-metal disc wheels, especially as a result of rubber shortages, did not help alleviate this problem either. The development of removable track extensions also did little to help mobility. Finally, any attempt to increase the calibre of the gun proved difficult. There were attempts to replace the main gun with a 37 mm (1.45 in) ZiS-19 or a 45 mm (1.77 in) ZiS-19BM, but proved unsuccessful as a result of the small turret. By the time a redesigned turret with the ZiS-19BM had passed trials, the T-60 as a whole was cancelled with the introduction of the T-70 in late 1942, although 55 T-60s were produced in 1943. The Germans would use captured tanks under the designation Panzerkampfwagen T-60 743(r), and the Romanians would modify 34 captured tanks into TACAM tank destroyers in 1943 armed with captured Russian 76mm divisional guns housed in a lightly armoured superstructure. These vehicles were confiscated by the Russians when Roumania changed sides in 1944. The Model The kit comes in the fairly standard, yet sturdy and colourful top opening box MiniArt use, with an artists impression of the vehicle on the front. As with most MiniArt kits there is a huge amount of detail contained on the sprues and in this one there are 34 sprues, including the etched brass. A lot of the spures contain common T-60 parts but there is one larger sprue for the TACAM. The mouldings are superb with no imperfections and very few moulding pips. Some of the smaller parts, and there are a lot of them, do have a fair number of sprue gates, but fortunately they are relatively small and shouldn’t cause too many problems. The sheer number of parts is explained by the fact that this kit is equipped with a full, and I mean full interior, which for a model/vehicle this size will mean you will need a magnifying glass/Optivisor when building. The build starts with the lower hull floor, to which the drivers position is attached, complete with detailed gearbox, levers and brake drums. Then there is the comprehensively detailed engine, which is a model in itself, and has more parts than some whole kits, around 22 in total. The two batteries and battery tray are then added to the left hand side of the hull adjacent to the drivers position, followed by the right side panel which is fitted with a fire extinguisher and four support brackets. The rear bulkhead is fitted out with several parts on the outside, before being attached to the lower hull, as is the lower glacis plate. The engine assembly is then glued into position and connected to the gearbox via a couple of drive shafts. The interior is slowly built up with bulkheads, ammunition racks with spare ammunition drums and boxes and another fire extinguisher. The left hull panel is then attached, along with the outer drive covers, idler axles, internal longitudinal bulkhead and several pipes. The upper hull plate is fitted with several panels before being glued into place. The drivers hatch is made up from five parts, while the drivers vision block is made up from six parts. Both assemblies are then glued to the driver position, and can be posed either open of closed. Depending on which colour scheme the modeller has chosen there are two options for the style of headlights to be used. The suspension arms are then glued to the hull, followed by the road wheels, return rollers, drive sprockets and idler wheels. The engine cover is next made up of three plastic and two etched grille pieces. This is then glued into position on the top deck, along with the drivers access and viewing plate. The tracks are each built up from eighty five individual links, which, unfortunately are not click able, but have to be glued, making it a little more awkward to get the sag and fitted around the idlers/drive sprockets. But with plenty of patience and care they can be made to look the business. An additional ammo stowage box for the SPG is then mounted on the left rear. The track guards are fitted with many PE brackets, as well as storage boxes, pioneer tools and a nicely detailed jack. The 76mm gun and its mounting carriage is then built up and and fitted. As with many other arts of the build this is highly detailed and a model in itself. The shields for the gun are then fitted. the build is finished off with the fitting of more PE brackets around the hull and the engine exhaust glued into position. Decals The small decal sheet contains markings for three SPGs Unidentified unit, Romanian Army, under operation command of Red Army, 2nd Ukrainian Front. 61st Company Self Propelled tank destroyers, Romanian Army 1st Tank Regiment, Eastern Front Feb 1944 61st Company Self Propelled tank destroyers, Romanian Army 1st Tank Regiment, Southern Ukraine, Summer 1944. Conclusion This is another amazing kit from MiniArt and brings yet another lesser known military vehicle to the mainstream modelling community. With the numerous parts count and the large number of very small parts, this kit is really aimed at the more experienced modeller, it looks like it should build up into a superb model, absolutely full of detail, so much so that there shouldn’t be any need for aftermarket parts. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of Creative Models
  8. Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) Armoured Vehicle Crew (HS-011) 1:35 Meng via Creative Models With more main stream Chinese kit manufactures appearing it was only going to be time until we had some modern PLA vehicles on the scene. Now from Meng comes a set of figures for them. This seems to be less of a combat or general set with the figures looking like those you would see on one of the massive Army parades the PLA stage. From the box you can build four figures, each having separate arms, legs head and torso, plus one driver for which only the shoulders and head are provided. There is one figure standing to attention, one manning an anti-aircraft gun, one sitting, and another standing holding onto a hatch rim. There is nothing else in the form of equipment or weapons in the set. Conclusion Mengs's figures are excellent, and this crew will make a difference to your Chinese vehicle. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  9. 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
  10. US Motorcycle Repair Crew (35284) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models During any of the mechanised wars of the 20th and 21st century, motorcycles have been an important tool for messengers, reconnaissance, and even agile light attack behind enemy lines. During WWII the motorcycle was a more reliable vehicle than it had been in WWI, and saw extensive use by all sides. The US Army made frequent and widespread use of them, one of which was the Harley Davidson WLA, which was the military version of the WL and appeared in 1940. These machines required frequent maintenance to keep them running, and when they broke down, to get them back to the front line again. The Kit The title of the kit is slightly misleading, as it implies you're getting the crew only, when in fact you also receive a pair of the aforementioned Harley Davidson motorcycles. The box art shows the contents, and while it is figure-sized, it is a top-opener with four sprues of grey styrene, a pair of small clear sprues, three frets of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a decal sheet, and an instruction booklet. Each of the large sprues contains all the parts for a motorcycle (plus the clear and PE parts), with the three figures on the next largest, and the smallest sprue holding the basic parts for the toolbox. The instructions begin with the bikes, and have you bending the PE spokes around a dished jig, and some supports for the front mudguard are also bent to shape on another jig, held in place by the pins that fit into the holes on each part. The tyres are each made from three layers to achieve the detail of the tread pattern, with the spokes fitted into the centre with the styrene hub parts added to the middle. Then the frame and engine are constructed over several steps, incorporating the rear wheel and exhaust, and later the air box and the wide fuel tank that has dual filler caps. Underneath, a shaped sump guard is installed with a kick-stand, plus pannier bags on the rear, twin rear lights, instrument binnacle with clear lens and a decal, front fork and wheel with a long mudguard keeping the dirt off the rider. With the wheel in place on the front forks, the PE parts that were bent to shape earlier are added, and the Thompson-equipped scabbard with additional ammo are hung off these parts. The handlebars and windscreen with clear top are the final parts, along with a front headlight with clear lens. The toolboxes have a base of styrene parts, with the thinner parts such as the stays and lid made from PE. You can build one in the open position and another in the closed pose. The open box has the most incredibly detailed, tiny nuts, bolts and washers moulded into the compartments, which are quite a sight to behold. There is also a set of tools supplied to be placed into the box or around the work area, some of which are PE, others styrene, and a few with styrene handles and PE blades. The three figures have separate arms, legs, heads, caps, and one chap even has a separate hand in order to maximise detail, with various poses as seen on the front of the box. One is sitting, another kneeling down fixing something, while the third gentleman is leaning over, probably watching someone else work, which sounds about right! Markings The decal sheet is small and has some rather neat shoulder patches for the figures, which is very nice to see. The rest of the decals include white stars, stencils, data plates and instrument dials for the bikes, which are almost universally olive drab in military service, with colours for the engine and ancillary parts called out along the way in a variety of paint manufacturer's codes. Conclusion More typically excellent figures from MiniArt, and a pair of highly detailed motorbikes into the bargain. Perfect for a vignette, or the backdrop of a more involved diorama. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  11. B-24J Liberator (83211) 1:32 Hobby Boss via Creative Models Consolidated's Liberator always seems to have flown in the shadow of the more popular B-17 Fortress in the media's eye even thought there were more of them, and in some aspects it was inferior, with poor low-speed handling and a lower ceiling, but it saw more than its fair share of action in almost every theatre of WWII, both in US use and in the hands of the RAF. It has a specification written around its main design traits, and had a long wingspan, twin bomb bays and four super-charged engines to provide motive power. It was unusual in having a high wing placement, tricycle undercarriage, and tamboured bomb-bay doors that retracted up the side of the fuselage, and was fitted with a fully glazed nose cone with .30cal machine guns for protection from head-on attacks. This was later updated to a turret fitted with .50cal guns with a glazed lower for the bomb aimer's position, but many of the earlier D models were still in use concurrently. Taking a leaf from the B-17's defensive armament book it could be fitted with up to 10 .50cal M2 Browning machine guns, with the layout changing during production changes, when various options were found to be unsatisfactory, such as the poorly defended nose, and the underside guns, which were eventually replaced with a Sperry ball turret that could be retracted into the fuselage to reduce drag, and must have pleased the crew no-end if they had to make a belly landing. The name "Liberator" was coined by the British, and soon spread to other operators, as they were early adopters of the type after the fall of France, serving with Coastal Command, and later with the RAF after the fuselage had been lengthened. In US Service the Liberator flew with the B-17, and later superseded it when the shorter range of the B-17 began to be an issue, with the Ploiesti raid being one of the most notable operations that featured the B-24, which suffered heavy losses due to the low level nature of the attack. After the J introduced the nose turret, the N was intended to be a major upgrade that incorporated a standard single tail fin to improve handling. Due to the end of the war this was cancelled, although the tail was still seen in the PB4Y-2 Privateer operated by the US Navy until long after WWII. After the huge success of the B-29 and the dawning of the jet age, the Liberator was drawn down at the end of the war, with only the Privateer soldiering on. A civilian airliner was prototyped as a potential offshoot, but that didn't proceed due to the same issues. The Kit There was quite a bit of hubbub about this kit when it was announced by Hobby Boss, and much has been said about its size and so forth. With the increasing number of 1:32 kits of WWII four-engined heavies however, it seems less unlikely now than it would have a few years ago. It is a brand-new tooling from Trumpeter's stablemate, and has been released at a price point that might make your eyes bulge for one of two reasons. If you're used to paying £30 for a kit, the fact that it's around £150 might make you swallow hard, but if you've bought other 1:32 heavies from other manufacturers, you might be surprised at how low the price is. Actually – make that three reasons for shock. The wingspan of this model is one metre five centimetres. 1049.5mm in total, with a length of 675.9mm. It's enormous! The box is pretty huge too, and has a rather retro-style boxart that reminds me of the model boxes of yesteryear, even down to some of the lettering, and the loose but effective manner that the bare metal has been painted. It is a top-opening box in sturdy cardboard, with a sub-box holding a number of the smaller sprues, and a compartment for the clear parts and delicate bits such as the PE, which are all separately bagged, the clear parts having bubble-wrapped bags for extra protection. Once you get over the awe of the size of the box and then the parts, you begin to realise that for the money you are getting an inordinate amount of plastic, which includes an almost complete interior, encompassing a lot of detail missed out from other kits of this scale and size. The surface detail is relatively straight forward, with engraved panel lines and rivets, which is consistent across the airframe and a good starting point for anyone that want to super-detail the exterior. A number of areas have been improved by the use of slide-moulding, and the landing gear has been strengthened by inserts within the detailed legs that appear to be made from a stronger plastic, although Aerocraft Models have produced a set of brass internal struts that will ensure your B-24 never does the splits once it's finished, which are really nice. This has got to be a must if you are planning on putting any kind of aftermarket in there, as it all adds weight. I'll be penning a review of this useful addition shortly, so keep an eye out. I'll link it from here when I'm done. First impressions are excellent – the panel lines may be a little deep for some, but I suspect they'll look fine once there's some primer then paint involved, and the level of detail is really good, especially considering the attractive price. Some folks have picked up on the engine fronts being a little simplified, but when you step back and consider the whole, it's not a deal-breaker and there are at least some Photo-Etch (PE) wiring harnesses to busy them up. Construction begins with the cockpit, which is set on the large floor, with consoles, seats and the main instrument panel fitted on it, the latter having a set of decals for the dials, and the throttle quadrant benefitting from a set of PE levers and side panel skins, which is nice to see from a mainstream manufacturer. The rear bulkhead has a doorway cut into the middle, and two tables for the next compartment attached in anticipation. Another short bulkhead affixes to the floor in front of the panel, closing off the nose from the cockpit area. The nose gear bay is moulded into the front of the lower floor, which has an opening for the crew hatch cut into it, and is detailed with separate rib-work aft of the partial bulkhead, with a PE skin in the hatchway. The nose gear leg is a short affair, with the aforementioned central inner leg, surrounded by the two outers, a large frame aft and a small scissor-link forward. The tyres are made of black flexible plastic, and have a two-part hub that fits from each side, and then slides onto the sturdy axle with a clipped mudguard close to the contact surface, which has a pair of small braces to prevent vibration. The leg is fitted into a square hole in the bay and stabilised by a central tong-shaped brace, plus retraction jack on the port side. A scrap diagram shows how the wheel and the forward bulkhead should look from the side, to avoid issues later. The two assemblies are brought together, with the entry floor moulded into the other side of the bay floor and additional parts added before the additional bulkhead with access ladder and another floor panel are fitted below the entryway, with the front resting on the partial bulkhead installed earlier. Another small piece of flooring is made up with ammo canisters flanking a simple hinged stool and the bomb-sight, with a rest pad in front of it for the bombardier's comfort during the run-in to target. This slots into the holes in the front of the lower bulkhead, and is joined by another bulkhead at the rear of the entry area, which has another stool fitted, this time with a back for the comfort of the radio operator as he hunches over his table. By now it is clear we're building the interior of the fuselage from front to back, which leads us to the bomb bays, which are bisected along their length by a tiny and dangerous 9" (23cm) wide walkway that wasn't at all liked by the crews. The bomb racks act as supports, and the completed assembly plugs into the roof, which is the underside of the wing. Ribs are added behind this area, and a bulkhead with doorway slots into the end. If you are planning on loading your B-24 with bombs, now is the time to build up twelve bombs, each of which is made up from two halves of the body, and another two parts for the fins, plus a spinner at the rear inside the box of the fins. Three go on each ladder, and you can have a bit of fun weathering their olive drab finish, as bomb dumps are usually outdoors a long way from shelter. The belly turret surround is also made up from a floor section with hexagonal hole for the turret, a short bulkhead that suspends it above the fuselage floor, and a step up/down to get in and around the turret. These two assemblies are then slotted into the back of the forward interior, and joined by the aft floor on which the waist gunners will stand to operate their .50cals from their windows. There is no "floor" as such aft of this area, so it is built into the fuselage halves later on. First, the various turrets are built up with their interiors looking very good OOB. The nose turret is first, with the internal structure built up around the two .50cals and fed by flexible styrene ammo belts from the centre. The glazing fits around the internals split front and back, with two small doors for the gunner's use separate at the rear, which necessitated a traverse full to the side to enable bail-out in an emergency, putting the gunner dangerously close to the likely still flailing props just behind his position. The aft turret is split into two side parts, into which the guns and their supports are installed, again being fed centrally via flexible styrene ammo runs. A piece of armoured glass at the front of the turret, and two more doors in the aft are added, then the turret is fitted through a base plate, and locked in place by adding the turret floor, permitting the turret to rotate freely, all being well. The belly turret is a more complex affair, as it has two axes of rotation. The suspension unit has the ammo cans fixed to the sides, and has a ring at the bottom, which has two pivots for the turret to rotate "up and down". The ball turret begins with the two clear side panels having a gun fitted and then joined together by a detailed cross-member with sighting equipment added. Then the clear central halves are closed around the assembly to form a rough ball, which is then clipped into the ring's pivots ready for installation. Before the fuselage and internals can be joined together, a great deal of equipment is added along the fuselage length on both sides, plus windows and various colours for the wall sections, which already have some nice detail moulded in. Scrap diagrams show the more complex assembly of the cockpit area parts, and colour call-outs are given where necessary, which is a big help. The waist gunner positions are added, as are copious yellow oxygen tanks, the prominent cable runs that pass through the bomb bay, and more ammunition. The uppermost sections of the rear fuselage are blank due to moulding constraints, but as the area will be seen through the waist windows, an insert that mimics the ribbing throughout the rest of the fuselage is installed on each side, with oxygen bottles and the waist gun window panels stowed there whilst they're in use. The starboard aft fuselage then receives a hollow bulkhead, equipment on the walls and a short length of walkway just forward of the rear turret, which acts as a step up/down for the cramped gunner, with his turret being installed at this stage, a small set of parts in the roof above the waist gunners, and the nose gunner's turret, which is locked in place without cement to allow it to turn. The interior is then installed in the starboard fuselage, the nose gunner's ammo belts are linked in, the belly turret is inserted through the hexagonal opening, and the long run of ammo is placed into its trough in the side of the fuselage, with additional parts having curves to enter the turret and leave their box by the waist gunner's station. This all sounds very quick, but there are a lot of parts, and a great deal of painting to be done during this stage, so it won't be a five minute job, and you still have another turret to build. The top turret has another two .50cals on a mount, which is sandwiched between the top and bottom "floor" and is joined by a number of other small parts, plus a short length of ammo leading down into the curved cans that are then fitted at the front, plus an armoured back with two oxygen tanks for the gunner in a small PE sling. It is set aside while the fuselage is joined, and slotted into the hole behind the canopy shortly after. The B-24's Davis wing relied on a long wingspan and narrow chord for high speed, but in return gave poor low speed handling, and had a high wing loading, which put a lot of stress on the airframe. In order for the model not to tear itself in half once completed, HB have included the mother of all spars, which extends 36cm across the centre of the aircraft once inserted. It slides into the slot over the bomb bays, and ledges on a lug to ensure it fits centrally, after which you can finally (finally!!!!) close up the fuselage, at which point you'll see a lot less of your hard work on the interior, but because of the scale, you'll still see a lot more than if it was 1:72 or 1:48. The aforementioned top turret drops into place behind the cockpit, and the canopy is fixed down over the aperture along with the nose-mounted astrodome, the "whiskers" on the nose sides, the open tamboured bomb bay doors and the wind deflectors in front of the waist gunner windows. Flipping the fuselage over, the bombardier's window goes on under the nose turret, the nose gear bay doors are added to the sides, four PE skins are fitted to the bomb bay centreline, the belly turret insert slots in on four upstands that hold it level with the skin of the outer fuselage, and here you'll just need to double-check that it is level before committing to glue. The rear hatch fills the aperture in the space between belly turret and tail, and that's the fuselage done for now. The main gear bays are buried deep in the wing, so need building up before construction on the wing begins in earnest. They are made up from individual slabs and a slightly curved roof that is in fact meant to be the underside of the skin. A number of ribs and stringers are installed, and it's all painted interior green, times two in mirror image. The finished wells fit into the lower wing, which has no nacelles at this stage, while the upper wing has the tops of the nacelles moulded-in, with a gap for the cooling flaps, which are separate. Top and bottom formation lights and a landing light near the gear bay are added from clear parts, and the process is repeated for the other side. The wings have heavy stiffening ribs inside, and are closed up around the spar that is now poking out of the fuselage on both sides, retained in place by stout turrets that pass through holes in the spar (see the pics for details). They could be adapted to be removable, and my first thoughts are to remove the turrets and add a neodymium magnet to the side of the gear bay to clamp against a piece of sheet metal that is attached to the spar. It could work, and it's bound to be something someone figures out fairly quickly, as there can't be all that many modellers with enough space to permanently display a complete B-24 with its wings on. During the mating process the flaps and ailerons are trapped between the halves, and the two lower engine nacelles with their cooling flaps and huge supercharger intakes recessed into the bottom complete the aft section of the nacelles and await the engine cowlings. There are some issues with the wing thickness and angle of incidence that have already been brought to light by other diligent modellers, but the fix is quite involved, and may terrify some of us (self included), for what might seem to some to be a slight difference, and to others it will make all the difference. I'm not sure yet which camp I fall into, but you can work that one out for yourself! Repeat the process (this is getting repetitive!) for the other wing, and then assemble the main gear legs around their central tougher strut, with retraction jacks, scissor-links and rubbery wheels with two-part hubs. This will be the first time the B-24 has stood on its own three wheels, and here I'm going to apply my usual pet worry about rubberised tyres on what is a rather heavy model. I don't know for sure what the long term prognosis will be for this plastic, but I would be sorely tempted to replace them with resin aftermarket wheels as and when they become available, just in case. We'll reconvene in 10 years and see whether I was right or not – I won't gloat if I am, I promise There are predictably four engine cowlings, and they are made up from an outer section and a small insert that blanks off the intakes on the sides. The Pratt & Witney R-1830 radial engines, which were a direct lift from the Catalina are depicted as two pseudo banks by applying the cylinder parts back-to-back, so that they will be seen through the front of the nacelle, and through the cooling flaps at the rear. The aforementioned PE harness is bent around the front bank, and an old-skool axle with collar is buried inside to take the three-bladed prop and allow it to spin freely once installed. The completed quartet are applied to the fronts of the nacelles once assembled, the retractable bumper is added at the rear, and small gear bay doors are attached to the newly fitted main gear legs. The instructions would have you fit the whiskers again at this stage, but don't be fooled – just do it the once, as late on as you can get away with, as they look eminently breakable! The build tails off with the big H-tail, and I'm really sorry about that pun. The main plane has separate elevators, all of which are made up of top and bottom parts, with the rudders also being separate from their fins, so that you can pose them as you please to add a little more interest to the area. The completed tail drops into the gap in the fuselage, closing over the fuselage, and completing the build save for a trio of antennae on the spine between wings and tail. At this stage you'll probably have knocked most things off your desk at some point with those massive wings, and be starting to wonder where you'll put it. Markings You'll probably need a larger spray booth for this one unless you've figured out how to make the wings removable, and you'll be pleased to hear that HB have included three decal options from the box on this large sheet. If you're phobic about natural metal finishes, you'll also be pleased to hear that there's an olive drab option too, although the aftermarket decal options are sure to balloon once this has been on general release for a while. Polka-dotted assembly ship anyone? There were a few Js. Now I'm wondering… and yes, there are some schemes out there that will probably be scaled up soon if not already. From the box you can build one of the following: B-24J-185-CO 44-40927 "51" 'My Akin?' of the 722nd BS, 450th BG B-24J-25-CF 42-109816 "YM" 'War Goddess' of the 409th BS, 93BG B-14J-175-CO 44-40674 "Going My Way" of the 431BS, 11BG As usual, Hobby Boss give very little info regarding the decal options, so I've had to use my rudimentary Google Fu to come up with any more information, although it's not hugely difficult. The two letter codes in the type represents the factory where the airframe was constructed, with CO standing for Consolidated's San Diego factory, and CF for their Fort Worth operation. The numeric code after the J Series letter is the Block Number. You can find a huge list of factories and such online here. Conclusion For the money, it's unlikely you'll get a bigger model, and to a great many of us it's a B-24J Liberator that will look awesome once built and painted. If you're a super detailer, you've got a lot more than a blank canvas on hand, as the detail levels are already excellent, especially when you consider the price. There are a couple of issues, the most notable being with the wing, but if that's not an issue for you, and I can very well see that being the case with a lot of folks, then it's a no-brainer. Go and get your credit card! If you're concerned about the wing, get your search engine to point you at the fix being worked on by our member Iain, or any others that are doubtless being worked on. As a point of note, it'll be impossible to sneak this box in past the missus if this is a criteria for you, but if you do get caught, it's almost big enough to live in anyway, so it's all good. Speaking personally, I'll be figuring out how to make the wings removable, loading it up with detail, and probably hiding my eyes about the wing, whilst singing "la-la-la can't hear you". Review sample courtesy of
  12. Soviet BT-2 Light tank Hobbyboss 1:35 History The KhPZ design bureau headed by Morozov barely changed any features of the original BT-1 chassis and Christie design, concentrating instead on the engine, transmission, turret and weaponry. The turret was of the simple “barrel type”, a cylinder made of several layers of steel, 5-6 mm (0.2-0.24 in) in all, which was designed to house a 37 mm (1.46 in) long barrel, high velocity AT gun. It was not ready for production at the time and was later in chronically short supply. Because of this, many BT-2s were delivered with a mixed armament of DP-DT machines guns only or a 37 mm (1.46 in) gun with or without a single coaxial DT machine-gun. The standard configuration included the gun and a coaxial DT machine-gun mounted in an oblique fixed position, in the Japanese style. Its traverse depended on the turret. The “full machine gun” version consisted of a single coaxial DT machine-gun and a twin DP-28 (Degtyaryov model 1928) light machine gun mount replacing the gun. The other important point was the engine. The Soviets imported a licence for the American Liberty L12, a water-cooled 45° V-12 aircraft engine capable of 400 hp (300 kW), built as the M5-400. This first model, although powerful and light, was also found difficult to maintain and unpredictable. The power-to-weight ratio meant excellent performance, although less impressive than the original Christie M1931, mostly because of the added weight of the turret and all the military equipment. The first run and trials of the BT-2 were successful and showcased a road speed of 100 km/h (62 mph), with an off-road speed of 60-70 km/h (37-43.5 mph) depending of the terrain. They were largely showcased for propaganda purposes and featured in movies throughout the thirties. In 1933, it was a completely new and unrivalled concept in the world, allowing “true” cavalry tactics built on speed, mostly for breakthrough exploitation and advanced reconnaissance missions. This emphasis on speed over protection also reflected the confidence in the naval “battlecruiser” concept, traduced in land warfare. The speed acted like an active protection on its own, since a target moving so fast was more difficult to hit. The M5 engine gave a 39 hp/t power-to-weight ratio and a 400 litre tank allowed a 300 km (186 mi) range at cruising road speed, with a tactical range of just 100 km (62 mi). This was impressive for the time, giving that it was at an average off-road 60 km/h (37 mph). The Kharkov Komintern Locomotive Plant delivered 620 BT-2 until 1935. Most were equipped with the 37 mm (1.46 in) model 30 gun, provisioned with 96 rounds. Some also received a radio “horseshoe” antenna fixed on the turret. The latter had only two side small vision slits. The gun mantlet also varied slightly in shape during the production run. Another external modification included the front mudguards, not mounted on the earliest model, and headlights. The Model The kit comes in a fairly small top opening box with an artists representation of the tank in the field. Inside there are five sprues and two separate parts in the standard tan styrene, two sprues of grey styrene, a small clear sprue, a very small sheet of etched brass and a decal sheet. This si one of those models that you just know is going to be a nice, quick build, until you get to the tracks. The thinness of the instruction sheet tells you that it is a fairly simple kit. The mouldings though are up to the usual standard with some fine detail, including the prominent rivets. There is no sign of flash or other imperfections, but a fair few moulding pips. Construction begins with the drilling out of various holes before the upper hull section is glued to the lower hull, along with the rear mounted drive covers, towing hooks, drive shaft cover and suspension bump stops, three per side. The five external beams either side are then glued into position, followed by the drivers hatch, suspension units and the eight piece front steering arms. The side plates are the attached, covering all the suspension detail, and the front wheels are attached along with their hub caps. On the hull roof there are six PE grab handles that will need to be carefully folded to shape before fitting. The two piece idler, and road wheels are joined together and glued to the their respective axle, as are the rear mounted drive sprockets. Now comes the fun bit, the tracks. The 48 individual links per side are quite small with the hinge parts moulded into them, these are glued together making up the track run, there’s not a lot of surface to glue so be careful, and they look to be particularly fiddly to drape over the wheels. Fortunately there was very little sag on the tracks of these vehicles so it may be best to make the top and bottom runs to length, glued them onto the wheels, then add the sections that go round the idler wheels and drive sprockets separately so that they can be curved to shape before the glue sets. The track guards are then attached, as is a large aerial looking item. These are followed by the exhaust silencer, engine hatch and engine grille. Finally the single main turret part is fitted with the lower turret ring, commander’s hatch and four piece gun/mantle. The turret is then fitted to the hull completing the build Decals The small decal sheet is sparse to say the least. What there are, are nicely printed and if previous experience has taught me, quite thin. All the sheet includes are two sets of numbers from 0 to 9 so you can choose whichever tank ID you like. There two colour schemes on the paint guide, Russian green overall or a mixture of red brown and flat black over flat white. Conclusion There is something about these inter-war tanks. It was a time of great experimentation throughout the world and while this was a quick tank it wasn’t a great success, but still is an interesting subject for your collection. There can’t be too many more Soviet inter-war tanks left to kit now. Review sample courtesy of
  13. German Panzergrenadiers (35248) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Panzer Grenadier was a term that was coined during WWII to describe troops that supported armour, or motorised infantry. They wore pink piping on their uniforms, with an S that stood for Shützen, or Protect to differentiate them from gun or other armoured crew. If they weren't riding on a tank, they would often travel in trucks, or if they were really lucky, a half-track such as an Sd.kfz.251. This figure set from MiniArt contains a group of Panzer Grenadiers sat in various poses on a vehicle. It arrives in a standard end-opening box, with four sprues of grey styrene inside. The painting and main construction diagrams are printed on the rear of the box, with colours called out in a large number of brands of paint for your ease. From the box you can build four figures, each having separate arms, legs head and torso, plus seven standard German helmets. They are all seated in differing poses, with most of them nursing Kar98s rifles, while one shows off his MP40, which has a separate folding stock. Each of them has the usual complement of pouches, gas mask canister, entrenching tool and water bottle, with ammo pouches to match their personal weapons. There are two weapons and one accessory sprues, each of the weapon sprues providing two Kar98s and MP40s, bayonets, a pistol and flare pistol, plus holsters in the open and closed positions, along with first aid kit, map case, binoculars and ammo pouches to personalise the crew or diorama with. The painting guide covers Vallejo, Mr. Color, LifeColor, Tamiya, Testors, AK Real Color, Humbrol, Revell, and Mission Models, with the names of the colours given in English and Ukrainian. Conclusion MiniArt's figures are excellent, and these gentlemen can be used to give your truck, half-track or tank a little human scale, or even just a squad sitting around on a wall or some ruins. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  14. Concrete Mixer Set (35593) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Every home should have one! No, hang on. Every building site should have a cement mixer for mixing of cement, no less. They're a common site on building sites even today, but are more usually electrically operated where there's a ready source of power, but back in the day they were often run by small diesel or petrol engine housed on the side and hand-cranked into life. This set contains a WWII era mixer, and arrives in a figure-sized box with seven sprues of various sizes inside, plus an instruction booklet, and a painting guide on the back of the box. If you're a fan or collector of these useful sets, you may well recognise some of the parts such as the sand bags, the tools and maybe even the wheel barrow, as they have been in other sets before now. The centre piece however is the mixer itself, which is on a four-wheeled frame and has a small engine in a housing on the side for motive power. It's the power box that is built up first, with no engine detail inside (which seems fair), but a starter handle and moulded-in access hatches on the outer. The frame is made up from tubular and flat parts, with the wheels and their axles attached at the bottom, and the smaller front wheels mounted on a towing arm for moving around. The mixing drum is built up from two halves, and even has the mixing vanes inside, as well as a pivoting mount, with planetary gears around the edge to turn the drum. The engine compartment sits on a trestle to the side, and a large winding handle fixes at the other end for pouring out the mixed concrete. Then it's on to the wheelbarrow, which has a simple A-frame and single wheel, with the load area attached to the top. Two sized buckets are included, as are eight sand bags that fit into a small arrangement, with a selection of hand tools on the final sprue such as shovel, spade, pick, sledgehammer and lump hammer, with a long pry-bar to complete the set. Conclusion The paint job on the concrete mixer will be key, as these things see hard work on any building site, and soon end up rusted and dented, caked in dried concrete until someone knocks it off with a lump hammer, or puts a few bricks in to knock the residue off. Another great collection of equipment, ancillaries and detritus for your dioramas from MiniArt. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  15. British Rucksacks, Folded Canvas & Bags WWII (35599) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models No matter where or when armies fight, they always need to bring things with them, and to carry smaller equipment and personal effects, rucksacks, bags and so forth are always present. In addition, covering equipment with waterproof tarps for camouflage and to prevent water damage is a common occurrence, so these too are often present, either rolled up on the side of vehicles or folded and strapped together. This new set from MiniArt gives the modeller just this sort of ancillary stuff to use in, on or near models or dioramas. Arriving in a standard figure-sized box, there are six sprues inside, two of each with different themes per pair. If you think you have already seen one of the pairs you'd be right, as one contains general and vegetable sacks, each of which are moulded in halves. The next pair contains two long rolled tarps, and two of the small rucksacks often seen worn high on the backs of Tommies. Each of these parts are hollow on the rear, but made of one part per item. The final pair contain larger rucksacks of two types, some bed-roll sized bundles, and three other tarps that are folded and rolled, then strapped up. Two of these are designed to be glued together into a stack with pins holding them in the correct position. The rear of the box has a guide printed upon it that shows the typical arrangement of some of the elements on Allied tanks, but other than the colours used, there's nothing holding you to using them exactly as shown. Conclusion Detail is excellent as we've come to expect from MiniArt, and with everything doubled up in pairs, there should be plenty of stowage to keep you going for several models at least. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  16. German Panzerlok BR57 Armoured Locomotive 1:72 Hobby Boss via Creative Models Ltd. During the 20s and 30s, the German National Railway dropped their previously dismissive doctrine regarding the use of armoured trains and realised that the armoured train was an effective way of pushing the railway further toward the front line, with sufficient protection for the locomotive to counter all but large calibre, high velocity rounds. A standard 1910 Prussian series G10 locomotive (0-10-0) with was fitted with armoured plates of thickness to render them almost invulnerable to small arms fire and air attack, permitting the loco to carry on unmolested unless the track was damaged. This type of loco became the standard in track clearing duties, and often pulled/pushed armoured and armed wagons mounting surplus gun turrets, seeking out ambushes in advance of important consignments that would follow. The BR57 often pulled two tenders and both pulled and pushed a couple of such wagons from the centre of the train. The Kit Although Hobby Boss don't immediately strike you as a producer of railway kits, they and their associate company Trumpeter do have a long-running and infrequent habit of producing (mainly military) engines, rail guns and wagons to go with such things. I have a couple of these in my collection, such as the Trumpy Leopold, the BR52 loco and a Panzerjägerwagen, as well as a diesel shunter the name of which I can't quite remember as I write this. This armoured loco is a new tool, and arrives in a standard HB box with a small card divider within, protecting the bodywork and under frame from damage, with the rest of the sprues individually wrapped, and in places protected by additional foam sheet. Take heed regarding the wrapping around the chassis ends though, as it is quite tightly wound, and could damage the delicate details underneath if removed roughly. Inside the box are seven sprues and two separate parts in sand coloured styrene, a glossy A4 painting sheet, instruction booklet and no decals, which I'm a little surprised about, as military vehicles of all types usually have at least a few stencils. Moving on… The detail of the slide-moulded upper shell parts is excellent, with bulky rivets and panels on the surface. The purists will want to replace the grab rails on the loco sides with wire ones for ultimate fidelity, but care will need to be taken here not to damage the surrounding detail. The overall part count is fairly low due to the fact that much of the structure is covered by armour, but what is there is finely moulded to a high standard. Construction begins with the lower chassis, which is a long narrow ladder into which the bearings, leaf-suspension and brake blocks are added on the inside face, with the wheels on the outer face. The wheels and their connecting rods are applied to the outer face, with a good level of moulded-in detail on the single part, given the limitations of plastic moulding. More parts including the pistons at the front of the wheel runs and the connecting rods are added before the running gear is mated with the lower floor of the loco. The boiler front and tread-plates are fitted to the front of this over the pistons, and plates are added to the front and rear. The armoured body is pretty much a single part, and is moulded with three tabs on the lower edge of each side, which must be removed before it is installed over the floor. Mirrors, couplings, a short funnel, and cheek plates to the pistons are then installed to finish off the loco. The tender has a wider, shorter chassis with three pairs of wheels added inside the frame, and suspension detail moulded to the outer surface of the frame. This and the loco coupling are fitted to the underside of floor, with the armoured shell fitting over the top with steps, grips, buffers and couplings fitted to the exterior. A small valance is fixed to the shroud around the accessway, and a plate is glued to the rear underside of the loco to fix the link between the halves in place, completing the build. Happily, Hobby Boss have included a stand, which consists of four track bed lengths with end-caps that result in a 60cm base that is covered in faux ballast, which if I'm being critical is a little bit too regular. The sleepers/ties are moulded into the ballast, and you slide eight lengths of rail into the cleats, linking them together with bolted plates as per the real thing (before welded rails became a thing of course). This gives the (roughly) 25cm loco and tender plenty of space to float around, and an additional truck or two could be added for a mini-diorama. Markings There are no decals in the box, and only one colour scheme included on the sheet, which is a base of Dark Yellow, over which is applied Red brown and Field Green stripes in a similar fashion seen on Panzers of the time. Given how filthy railway gear got due to the soot and grease, there is then plenty of scope for the modeller to express themselves with weathering. Conclusion A nicely moulded kit that would have benefitted from the inclusion of the footplate and controls, so that the sliding panels over the windows could have been left open. The boiler front is also locked away behind a non-opening armoured door, which again would have been useful to be able to leave ajar for a more candid look to the finished model. That aside, it's an appealing addition to a collection of military railway hardware, which I seem to have been indulging in without even thinking about. Maybe that's where my son gets it from afterall? Review sample courtesy of
  17. All too often these days we seem quick of the mark in complaining when things don't go the way we expect. Is never been so easy to vent our frustrations quickly and some times with out thought. So what happens when things exceed our expectations? Do we offer positive feedback in the same rapid fire mode, maybe not. Its quite refreshing there for that I do pass on my positive comments in this case to all at Creative models for offering a superb level of service. The latest example of which saw the item ordered at 1300hrs and the kit was in my hands less than 24hrs later, post free as well (if ordered over £30 in value). Every order to date I have placed has seen the same timely delivery with exception over a weekend. Great work and thank you, Rick G
  18. BMR-1 Early Type with KMT-5M MiniArt 1:35 Based on the SU-122-54, which MiniArt have also produced, this kit is of the first version of the armoured mine clearing vehicle. The main gun has been removed and the fittings of the attachment of the KMT-5M mine roller system. Where the top hatches would normally be, there is instead a round cupola fitted with a single heavy machine gun. The forward section of the lower hull was fitted with much thicker armour to prevent penetration in the event a mine exploded under the vehicle. Surprisingly these vehicles were still in use during the Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion in the 1980’s. The Model As with the TOP engineering vehicle this is typically Russian in style, tough, rugged and with the singular purpose of clearing mines. As with most MiniArt kits the box, with an artist’s impression on the front is full to the brim with sprues, a total of seventy one in grey styrene, one in clear, a small sheet of etched brass, two lengths of chain and a small decal sheet. The way the sprues are moulded is how the company gets so many versions of their kits out, as there is a lot of commonality. The mouldings are extremely well executed with no sign of flash or other imperfection, but there are quite a few moulding pips which increases clean up time. Whille the build looks fairly simple there are a lot of parts used to build up the suspension and particularly the mine roller system. Construction begins with the lower hull, which is fitted out with the torsion beam suspension fixtures and you have the option of fitting the whole torsion beam or just the end part. Each suspension beam/axle plate consists of seven parts and there are ten axles to fit. Once the suspension is assembled the lower hull is built up from two side plates a rear plate and the internal firewall for the engine bay, the engine being available separate should you wish to fit one. The suspension bump stops are then attached, as are the drive gearbox covers and idler wheel axles. The large armoured olate is then fitted to the forward underside of the hull. The superstructure is next and is made up from separate plates which require holes to be drilled out before gluing together. In order to help get the plates the correct angles there is a small internal part the helps with this and give the structure strength and rigidity before the roof and mantle are attached. The roof is fitted with two, spades, with their respective clamps and the commander’s cupola is fitted with three vision blocks. The superstructure assembly is then glued to the lower hull, along with the track guards, and three multi-part engine deck covers. The rear of the superstructure has a single large hatch glued into place, as well as other unidentifiable fittings. The commander’s cupola is made up from no less than nineteen parts if you include the searchlight. There is a much simpler second hatch on the right hand side of the super structure. The front and rear mudguards are then assembled and fitted along with the very complex PE engine deck grilles, with separate shutters are built up and fitted. On the sides of the superstructure there are a lot more grab handles and brackets to be attached, while to the rear there is the five piece exhaust outlet fitted to the right track guard. The twin headlights fitted to the left and right sides of the glacis plate are assembled from thirteen parts including the base and all the support beams. On each front track guard there is a visual width pole fitted which are also fitted with reflectors. The turret ring is then fitted to the roof, while on the left side of eh superstructure the canvas roll is fitted with PE straps. The glacis plate is fitted with a selection of brackets, towing hooks and four pairs of spare track links. Two large stowage boxes are assembled and glued to the track guards, one per side. The BTR style conical turret is fitted with the 14.5mm heavy machine gun and a co-axial light machine gun via a separate mantle before being covered with an additional circular turret and fitted wot the turret ring on the roof. There is an aerial mount and aerial fitted to the front left of the superstructure and a further three pairs of track links fitted with their brackets, also on the left hand side. Each of the road wheels are glued into pairs and fitted with a small hub cap, as are the sprockets and idler wheels. Once assembled these are all glued into place, as are the large towing cables. Finally the tracks are assembled and draped over the running gear. With this kit you get the newer link and pin system that MiniArt have started using. This system is so easy to use and you can get a full length of track within minutes, even with 91 links per side. With the vehicle complete it’s on to the raison d'être of the tanks mission, the mine roller system. Now these are quite complex, so take care in reading the instructions carefully as it could easily go wrong. The rollers themselves are of three wheels on a common shaft, these are then fitted with two axle plates and hub covers. The axle plates are also fitted with two beams onto which the thicker of the two chains are attached. The main support arms are each assembled from thirty nine parts and are fitted to the lower glacis plate of the tank. The roller assemblies are then attached to the support arms and fitted with the smaller sized chain and some cable with simulated spring units. Between the rollers there is another length of chain with a smaller roller fitted at the mid point. Decals The decal sheet gives the modeller four options, all of which were used in the war against Afghanistan. The decals are beautifully printed, are clear and in good register with a slightly matt finish. The options are:- BMR-1, No.004, Soviet Army, Afghanistan in the early 1980’s BMR-1, No.11, Soviet Army, Afghanistan in the early 1980’s BMR-1, No.165, Soviet Army, Afghanistan in the 1980’s BMR-1, No.059, Soviet Army, Afghanistan in the late 1980’s Conclusion Continuing their march through the various T-55 variants, MiniArt are producing some really interesting vehicles. Although the mine roller system is quite complex to assemble it will look superb once complete. This is another vehicle that’ll make an interesting stand alone model or great in a diorama. Review sample courtesy of Miniart - Distibuted in the UK By Creative Models
  19. TOP Armoured recovery vehicle MiniArt 1:35 Vi Creative Models Although based on the SU-122-54 assault gun, there is very little else I can find out about this vehicle, the identifying feature of the donor tank is the gap in the wheels between the third and fourth road wheel. The main gun was removed and a large plate welded in the place of the mantlet. Large towing eyes were welded to the rear of the superstructure and rear hull plate and a small cupola fitted with a searchlight for the commander. Only about one hundred were made and mostly stayed within the Moscow military district or seen at the big parades Russia/Soviet Union likes to give. The Model Without the main gun this vehicle does look rather odd, in a typically Russian style. As with most MiniArt kits the box, with an artist’s impression on the front is full to the brim with sprues, there being a total of fifty one, which, considering there is no interior, is still quite a lot, no matter how small they are. The way the sprues are moulded is how the company gets so many versions of their kits out, as there is a lot of commonality. The mouldings are extremely well executed with no sign of flash or other imperfection, but there are quite a few moulding pips which increases clean up time. Even though it looks a fairly simple vehicle take your time to read the instructions carefully as there are a lot of small parts and options. Construction begins with the lower hull, which is fitted out with the torsion bean suspension fixtures and you have the option of fitting the whole torsion beam or just the end part. Each suspension beam/axle plate consists of seven parts and there are ten axles to fit. Once the suspension is assembled the lower hull is built up from two side plates a rear plate and the internal firewall for the engine bay, the engine being available separate should you wish to fit one. The suspension bump stops are then attached, as are the drive gearbox covers and idler wheel axles. The superstructure is next and is made up from separate plates which require holes to be drilled out before gluing together. In order to help get the plates the correct angles there is a small internal part the helps with this and give the structure strength and rigidity before the roof and mantle are attached. The roof is fitted with two, three piece vision scope and the commander’s cupola is fitted with three vision blocks. The roof is also fitted out with grab handles and other fixtures, which this reviewer cannot identify. The glacis plate is fitted out with a variety of hooks, eyes, plates, brackets and a pair of spare track links. The superstructure assembly is then glued to the lower hull, along with the track guards, and three multi-part engine deck covers. The rear of the superstructure has two large hatches glued into place, with, rather oddly, two external seats attached to them, and there are two, large four piece bottle jacks assembled to be fitted to the right hand side of the engine deck. The commander’s cupola is made up from no less than nineteen parts if you include the searchlight. There is a much simpler second hatch on the right hand side of the super structure. The front and rear mudguards are then assembled and fitted along with the very complex PE engine deck grilles, with separate shutters are built up and fitted. On the sides of the superstructure there are a lot more grab handles and brackets to be attached, while to the rear there are three large multi-part stowage bins to be assembled and glued to the track guards. The twin headlights fitted to the left and right sides of the glacis plate are assembled from thirteen parts including the base and all the support beams. On each front track guard there is a visual width pole fitted which are also fitted with reflectors. Each of the road wheels are glued into pairs and fitted with a small hub cap, as are the sprockets and idler wheels. Once assembled these are all glued into place, as are the aerials and large towing cables. Finally the tracks are assembled and draped over the running gear. Unfortunately these are of the glue together type rather than MiniArt’s latest system of pin and link, so you will need some patience, as there are ninety links per side, or go out and buy some aftermarket metal tracks, which in my view gives a better natural sag anyway. Decals The decal sheet gives the modeller three options. The decals are beautifully printed, are clear and in good register with a slightly matt finish. The options are:- TOP ARV, USSR, Moscow Military District 1970’s to 1980’s TOP ARV, USSR, Moscow Military parade, November 7th 1990 TOP ARV, USSR, Moscow Military District, presumably early 1990’s Conclusion MiniArt seem to be attempting to produce every variant stemming from the T-55, no matter how odd or obscure they are. This is great for the military modeller who is either into weird vehicles or Russian/Soviet equipment, or as in most cases, both. Once again it’ll make an interesting stand alone model or just as great in a diorama. Review sample courtesy of Miniart - Distibuted in the UK By Creative Models
  20. 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
  21. Chinese Type 59 Medium Tank MiniArt 1:35 Obviously, the Type 59 was a faithful reproduction of the Soviet Type 54A, internally and externally, although the Chinese did make some modifications. It was simplified in design, without the characteristic IR searchlight and main gun stabilization system. The hull was welded with some 99 mm of armour thickness on fht front slope, and 100 mm for the front turret armour, which had the characteristic decrease in thickness from the base to the top, according to ballistic penetration calculations. The turret floor was non-rotating. The driver, loader, commander and gunner positions were unchanged. Main armament was the 100 mm Type 59 tank gun, a copy of the original D-10TG with its characteristic muzzle fume extractor, with 34 rounds in store, mainly into the hull. Secondary armament comprised a coaxial Type 59T 7.62 mm machine gun, a bow MG manned by the driver from inside the central glacis (3500 rounds in store), and the anti-aircraft heavy machine gun Type 54 12.7 mm over the loader’s hatch, apparently also a copy of the DShKM, with 200 rounds in store. The engine was the Model 12150L V-12 liquid cooled diesel, giving 520 hp at 2000 rpm. The overall weight was also equivalent to the T-54A and road range was about 600 kilometres, with the rear external fuel tanks. These tanks, were upgraded several times throughout their career which lasted from 1959 till 1985. The Model Having reviewed the T-54A here MiniArt are now releasing the various derivatives and those used by other countries. As with earlier kits there are a lot of similarities but quite a few new parts as well. Although not having as many sprues as those kits with interiors, the box is still stuffed full of sprues. On opening you are greeted by a mass of sprues, many of them quite small because of the tooling's modular nature, with quite a few parts going unused for this boxing. The mass of sprues fill up just about all the space in the box, leaving only room for air between the sprues, anyone familiar with the old Krypton Factor will realise getting all this back in the box is one of life’s little challenges! Construction is almost identical to the earlier releases, The lower hull then fitted out with a multitude of parts that include the torsion beam suspension, multi part axles, gearbox covers, and interior escape hatch plus PE beam covers. The upper glacis plate is then fitted as are the three piece road wheels, drive sprocket and idlers. The turret ring assembly is the attached, followed by the rear bulkhead, each fitted with more detail parts. The engine deck is then built up and the separate hatches are able to be posed open or closed as per the modellers’ wishes, but since this kit doesn’t have an interior there seems little point unless you have purchased the separate engine kit which is available. The deck is topped off with PE grilles in their frames and the large hinge for the main hatch. The tracks are of individual link type, with ninety links per side, and it will be a case of assembling it like a link and length style, gluing each link together before draping them over the road wheels. The fenders are fitted with stowage boxes, fuel tanks and spare track links plus front and rear mudguards before being glued into position. The two fuel drums mounted to the rear of the tank are assembled and glued into their mounting frames, as is the unditching beam and the pipework for the fender fuel tanks. The turret roof comes complete with all the periscopes and hatch details for the commander and gunner positions, a highly detailed Dushka (DsHK) 14.5mm heavy machine gun, consisting of twenty nine parts, and rolled up tarpaulin. The single piece main barrel is glued into the breech, and fitted with the mantlet cover. There aren’t as many grab handles fitted to the outside of the turret on this version, or brackets and clamps. Finally the driver's wet weather cover, that fits over his hatch can be posed stowed or in place. If you are stowing it, there are some PE straps to tie things down on the bustle. The turret assembly is then fitted to the hull, completing the build. Decals The decal sheet gives the modeller seven options. The decals are beautifully printed, are clear and in good register with a slightly matt finish. The options are:- Type 59, No.308 of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army currently still in service. Type 59, of the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran, used during the Iran – Iraq war in the early 1980’s Type 59, of the Albanian Army, used on the border area with Kosovo, April 1999 Type 59, No.503 of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army currently still in service. Type 59, No.408 of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army currently still in service. Type 59, No.852 of the 201st tank regiment, Viet Cong, on the 17th Parallel, March 1972 Type 59, No.808, of the 108th Tank Regiment, 43rd Army Corps of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army during the the Sino-Vietnamese War, February 1979. Conclusion MiniArt’s march through the various T-54 and T-55 variants continues apace with this release. Being without the mega amount of parts found in the interior kits, this is definitely more suited to the intermediate modeller, or those who just don’t want interiors to their models. It’s still a great looking kit and with the decal options available for a number of different coutries something different for the collection. Review sample courtesy of Miniart - Distibuted in the UK By Creative Models
  22. Sd.Kfz.173 Jagdpanther Ausf.G1 (TS-039) 1:35 Meng Model via Creative Models After the Nazis encountered the formiddable Russian T-34, their medium tank project took a new turn to become the Panther, which proved to be one of their more successful designs and is still admired today for its technical prowess and abilities. The need for tank killers took the chassis of the Panther, removed the turret and superstructure, replacing it with a casemate and powerful high-velocity gun in a new mount with elevation and limited side to side movement that was used for fine-tuning targeting. The heavily sloped glacis extended to the roofline, giving the vehicle a sleek look that was echoed at the sides, with a step down from the roof at the rear onto the engine deck. The G1 variant used the Panther A as a base, while the later models designated G2 were based up on the Panther G chassis. The same Pak 43 88mm gun was mounted, in an internally fixed mantlet initially, and later externally bolted in the G2. As with all WWII German tanks, the design was complex by comparison with the enemy's, so production was slower, which was probably just as well as it was a capable tank, just like is turreted progenitor. The gun was unstoppable by armour at the time, the engine had enough power for the task in hand, and it wasn't overweight, so the transmission could handle the power easily. If there had been more of them, they could well have had an impact, certainly slowing down the Allied advances (providing they could have fuelled them, and making gains more costly in men and materiel. The Kit Given that Meng have now tooled a Panther in 1:35, it makes sense for them to add a Jagdpanther to their line due to the overlap in parts and research. We reviewed the Ausf.A here and the later D here, so it looks like a Panther G and a Jagdpanther G2 will hopefully be on the list soon enough. Meng have a well-earned reputation for producing good, well-detailed models, mainly because that's what they keep on doing. I'm a fan of Meng, and I also love the Jagdpanther for no reason that I can divine, so I apologise in advance if I come across a bit giddy at times. The kit arrives in a standard classy Meng box with effective artwork and that satin finish I like so much. Inside are nine sprues in sand coloured styrene, a small clear sprue, two sheets of Photo-Etch (PE) in varying thicknesses, a length of polycaps, two thicknesses of braided metal wire a small decal sheet, turned aluminium barrel, instruction booklet and separate colour painting guide on folded A3 glossy paper. First impressions. There are very few common sprues, extending as far as the two road wheel sprues, but there are a lot of common parts that have been re-allocated to the new sprues in substantial numbers as you can imagine. Even the track sprues have been redesigned with the links horizontally and with an extra sprue gate added, presumably to cope with dangers of short-shot sprues coming hot off the presses. Detail is excellent throughout, and I really like and appreciate the inclusion of things such as a turned barrel and realistic braided wire for the towing cables, as it's just one less thing to have to add to your model. The more that’s in the box and used by the modeller, the better the eventual value is. Construction begins in the same manner as the Panther with the paired road wheels with a polycap between each one, plus the idler and drive sprockets. The lower hull is built from floor and two side panels, with two t-shaped braces holding them to the correct angles, so that when you fit the rear bulkhead it should fit perfectly in place. Various bits of suspension and drive train are added to the sides, as are the stub axles through the holes in the hull sides. These have a small additional peg at the end of the swing arm to allow the modeller to set them at the correct (stationary) ride height, and before installation the small hole in the back that is there to prevent sink marks is filled with small inserts, even though they mostly won't be seen. The lower hull with the engine deck and radiator bath sections are then made up, and glued on the lower hull, with the overhang closed in by adding the bottoms of the fenders once in place. The road wheels are interleaved in the same manner as the Tiger, so must be put in place in the correct order to prevent complications, so take care here to put types A and B in the correct places, after which the tracks are needed. The links are individual, with twin guidehorns that are supplied as separate parts and must be added into the small square holes in the links before you can glue the links together. The new position of the sprue gates on the links are on curved surfaces, which makes removing that last fraction of a millimetre that much harder, requiring a circular diamond file to do a good job. This slows the task down quite a bit initially, although as with all things you'll probably speed up near the end, which is exactly what I did on my short run, electing to add the horns dry to the links, and glue them in place. The links fit together snuggly, and hide all the seamlines as well as any less-than-perfect sprue gate removal, so it's not the end of the world, but the task will be a fairly long one, and as the guidehorns are small and tapered, they love to ping out of your tweezers at the slightest increase in pressure. Once all the links have their horns in place, a relatively swift gluing of links should leave them flexible enough to drape around the wheels, and taping or chocking them in place will give you the realistic slight sag behind the drive wheels that you need to the top run. The upper hull that was installed earlier is merely the liner, but the front panel is exterior armoured surface, and this needs some holes opened up depending on which decal option you are going to use for your model. The side armour panels are similarly in need of holes for the same reason, at which point you have a vehicle that looks more like a tank. Small PE are added to the exterior along with other fixtures such as the lights, towing shackles and pioneer tools that are a must for any AFV. The rear bulkhead is fitted with armoured access panels and either two or the later three-plus-one exhausts, which have cast armoured lowers and are surrounded by the angular stowage boxes that usually fare badly in reversing incidents. The later tubular Notek convoy/number plate light is hidden away on the left lower , with a scrap diagram showing the correct colours and its location on the stowage bin, which is a new one on me. The engine deck has three louvers, two of which are rectangular and have PE mesh covers, the other a raised cast circle that has its own PE insert, while on the sides a run of narrow PE fenders are fitted with styrene brackets, which later also act as hangers for the schurtzen side skirts. A rack of spare track links and tools are added above on the right, with more tools on the left, plus a choice of three barrel cleaning tubes either on the side or at the rear of the engine deck. The central lift-off cover to the engine deck was a source for some variance, so holes are flashed over and drilled out as needed for the various decal options. Even the jack block was moved to the engine deck on some examples, so the option is provided here as well. The rear is finished off with the crew hatch, spent shell-ejection port, and aerial base, with an alternative stowage box, blanking plate or antenna base on the left of the crew door, just to confuse things. Speaking of variations, there are a few on the roof of the fighting compartment, with a simple flat mushroom vent, or a higher domed one, as well as being able to leave the commander's hatch open or closed. The rotating sighting periscope is made up and dropped into the roof, being secured by a ring to allow it to rotate if you wish it. The roof can be installed before the main gun at this point. The bow mounted machine gun was surrounded by a domed armour panel called a Kugelblende, which came in two flavours with a stepped aperture and a smooth one. The gun barrel is fitted to the ball mount and trapped in place by the installation of this part, or it can be left off and covered by a plug with PE chain that was fitted during deep wading for example. The gun breech is surprisingly detailed considering this is a "no interior" kit, and this is built up over a number of steps before being pushed through a choice of three mantlets, one of which has no external fixtures, the other two with large bolts top and bottom as befits their decal option. The Saukopf (literally "pig head" due to how it looks) that protects the vulnerable gap between mantlet and breech is slid on next, with PE lifting eyes added for two decal options, presumably after they realised these things were REALLY heavy. The completed assembly slides into the glacis and can be glued in place to accept the turned barrel once it has been top & tailed with the three-piece flash hider, and four part gun sleeve. The barrel is keyed, so there's little change of it going in upside down unless you are very determined and brutal with it, and again there's a choice of styles of flash hider between decal options. With the barrel glued in and the nickel-plated Schurzen put in place, that's construction over with. Markings There are four markings options in the box, and a small decal sheet covers them all, as with most AFV models. Everything is camouflaged in weird and wonderful ways, as the Germans were at this point in the war running scared of an increasingly overwhelming aerial supremacy by the Allied after years of chipping away at the Luftwaffe til there was very little left, and almost no experienced pilots to pull things back. Decals are printed in China in black and white, and have good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion I'm on love with this kit, and will put up with the slightly fiddly tracks for the sake of the rest of it. Awesome detail, simple enough construction, and it's a Jagdpanther. By Meng. Review sample courtesy of
  23. Soviet 2 ton 6x4 Truck w/76mm USV-BR Gun MiniArt 1:35 The ZIS-6 is a Soviet general purpose 6×4 army cargo truck, a three-axle version of the ZIS-5 two-axle truck. It was built from 1933 until October 1941 at the Moscow Zavod imeni Stalina factory and reached a total production of 21,239. The robust and reliable base was used for many different bodies, for example as a searchlight truck or mobile workshop. But is best known for its role as the first multiple rocket launcher in July 1941. It was built by the "Compressor" Plant's Design Office during World War II (1941–45). Very few ZIS-6 trucks survive till today. The 76-mm divisional gun M1939 (F-22 USV or USV) was a 76.2 mm cannon produced in the Soviet Union. It was adopted for Red Army service in 1939 and used extensively in World War II. The gun was designated as "divisional" - issued to batteries under the direct control of division headquarters. The F-22 USV was an intermediate model, coming between the F-22, which had limited anti-aircraft capability, and the simpler and cheaper ZiS-3, which eventually replaced it in production and service. The Model MiniArt ahs a great habit of combining several kits into one set and this is no exception, the Gaz AAA and Divisional gun have been released separately before, but then they have added several new parts that will make for a great addition to a diorama, this includes ammunition boxes, shells and a couple of figures. The mouldings, particularly for the truck are showing their age in that they are really quite complex and certainly not for the beginner. This is shown more in the running gear and suspension as well as the steering rack parts. That said the parts are still well moulded with no sign of flash or other imperfections, but there are a fair few moulding pips. The gun is of a similar vintage and again the parts are well moulded. I still don’t understand how MiniArt packaging department get all the sprues into the poly bag, I’ll have to video them the next time I’m there. There are seventy five sprues of grey styrene in total, plus one of clear, along with two sheets of etched brass and a small decal sheet. The build starts with the nicely detailed engine with the block, head and sump being glued together followed by the addition of the starter motor, alternator, water pump, auxiliary drive belt, cooling fan, cooling pipes, oil filler pipe. The gearbox is then assembled from three parts and glued to the engine assembly, along with intake manifold. The two, chassis rails are fitted with an extra beam where the truck bed will sit. These are held on the rails by three “U” bolts and their associated clamps. The rear leaf springs are then attached via their support links. Four cross members are then used to join the rails together, as well as the rear chassis end piece, to which the towing eye spring is attached. There is a three piece box attached to the left hand rail, near the front. The wheels are assembled, and in this, MiniArt have deviated from the norm, by making the inner tyre half made up from four individual rings, while the outer section is made up of three rings. The wheel itself is then sandwiched between the two tyre sections. Whilst this sounds odd, I think it’s to make a realistic tyre with the type of radial tread used at the time. The rear axles and differentials are each made up from fifteen parts, if you include the drive shaft. These assemblies are then fitted to the rear leaf springs, while the front suspension is made up on a single leaf spring assembly mounted laterally and fitted with the front axle, steering rack and support arms. The rear differential is then fitted with a triangular support structure which also supports the brake rods. The front chassis end cap is attached as are the two bumper side arms, while to the rear there is a choice of towing hook styles, one, just a single piece unit, the other is made up from five parts. The spare wheel, mounted under the rear chassis is held in place by a support large clamp. The front and rear brake drums are then attached to the axles, followed by two wheels per side on the rear axle and one per side on the front axle. The engine assembly in then glued into position, followed by the two piece radiator, two piece front bumper and two support brackets on chassis rails. The three piece exhaust is the attached to the right hand side. The two front fenders are each single piece units to which a small hook is attached before being fitted to the chassis, as are two of the lateral truck bed beams. The cab floor is also attached and fitted with the bench seat, gear stick and panel support. The three piece wiper/wiper motor is fitted to the front screen surround, once the clear screen has been fitted. The screen is then fitted with two small arms, these can be glued in either the stowed position for a closed screen, or down, so that the screen can be posed open. The rear of the bonnet section is then glued to the front of the screen support, along with eh two side sections and engine bulkhead which has been detailed with several small parts. Inside the foot pedals are attached lower bulkhead, part of the floor panel fitted earlier, before the front cab assembly is glued into place, along with the steering column and wheel. The three piece rear panel and roof of the cab are then glued into place, as are the two bonnet supports, between the bulkhead and the radiator. Each door is made up from six parts, including clear section, door handles, latches and window winders. The doors are then put to one side. The bonnet halves, split longitudinally are each made from two sections, which can be posed in either the open or closed positions, allowing the modeller to show of the engine should they so choose. The doors are then attached; again, they can be posed open or closed as the modeller wishes. The three piece horn is attached to a rail, which in turn is attached to the front of the vehicle between the fenders. The two, three piece headlights are then fitted, as is the single, two piece wing mirror, on the drivers side. The truck bed is then assembled from five parts, bed, sides, front and rear sections, and glued into place, completing the truck section of the build. The truck bed is made up from the bed itself which is strengthened by four small and two large lateral beams along with three tie hooks per side. The rear large beam forms the backplate of a stowage box, while the two spare wheels are stored just forward of this. The front, side and rear panels are then assembled with their associated latches, with the side panels also being fitted with holders of the snow tracks which are also provided with the kit. With the bed sides attached the six ammunition boxes are assembled, complete with shells, three with armoured piercing and three with high explosive shells. The snow tracks, which wrap around the rear wheels when required, are assembled completely from PE parts, and are assembled from a series of two piece links and two piece connecting rods, there being a total of 90 links. The tracks are split into three sections per side and if not being used around the wheels there are stored on the sides of the truck bed and clamped into place. The completed bed is then attached to the chassis completing the truck build. Ensure you have taken you’re yearly dose of patience and dexterity when building these tracks, because you’re going to need them. Work then begins on the gun and its carriage. The split trails are assembled from two parts and fitted with items such as the cleaning rods, grab handles locking pins, spreading handles, rear mounted spades and towing eye. The central mounting is a complex affair consisting of 29 parts, to this the trail brackets are then attached, wach being made up from three parts and the trail assemblies glued to the brackets. The wheels are assembled in the same way as the truck wheels and fitted to the axles on the mounting. Then its onto the gun, with the slide assembly built up from six parts and the gun from eight. The gun is then slid onto the slide before being fitted with a large PE plate and small mid section splinter shield. The two trunnion mounts are fitted out with a selection of hand wheels, gear housings and sights before being attached to the mounting and the gun to the trunnions, as are the recupertor cylinders. The main splinter shiedl is a single piece item and fitted with a multitude of smaller parts such as site doors, stowage boxes and support bars. This assembly is then fitted to the gun assembly finishing the build, well apart from the option of having the gun in operational or towing position, if in towing configuration there is a locking bar that locks the two trails together. In addition to the truck and gun, the kit also includes a couple of figures, one appears to be pouring water out of a bucket, perhaps into the radiator, the other looks like a driver, but standing on the fender holding onto the steering wheel. Each figure comes in multiple parts such as separate head, hat, legs, arms, lower coat for the bucket holder, and bucket. Unusually there is fair bit of flash on the figures, but nothing that can’t be sorted with a sharp knife or sanding stick. Decals The decal sheet gives the modeller just two options for the truck, and yet there are three options for the gun. The decals are beautifully printed, are clear and in good register with a slightly matt finish. The names of the different companies are included, as well as their respective registration plates and insignia. The options are:- Soviet 2T 6x4 Truck of an unidentified unit of the Red Army, presumably during the winter of 1941 – 1942 Soviet 2T 6x4 Truck of an unidentified unit of the Red Army, 1941 – 1944 Divisional gun from an unidentified unit of the Red Army, Western Front, December 1941 Divisional gun from an unidentified unit of the Red Army, Winter 1943 – 1944 Divisional gun from the 889th Artillery regiment, 387th Infantry Division, 2nd Ukrainian Front, May 1945 with the gun shield showing 5 victory marks, denoting 5 destroyed German tanks. Conclusion As most people will know I am a big fan of MiniArt, and not just because the owner and some of the staff have become friends. Their product line continues to grow almost exponentially, both with new releases and products like this one where several separate kits have been brought together to provide the modeller almost a diorama out of the box. The truck and gun are quite complex as mentioned earlier, but they will build into lovely models for any collection. Review sample courtesy of Miniart - Distibuted in the UK By Creative Models
  24. German Tank Crew at Work (35285) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Tanks despite looking cool demand a lot of hard work from their crews to work well. This is as true now as it was during WWII. This new set from Miniart shows a crew performing maintenance on their tank (well apart from the Officer taking a drink, so thats not changed either!). It arrives in a standard end-opening box, with three sprues of grey styrene inside plus a small sheet of PE as well as an instruction sheet and sprue guide. The painting and main construction diagrams are printed on the rear of the box, with colours called out in a large number of brands of paint for your ease. From the box you can build five figures, each having separate arms, legs head and torso, plus two caps. Three soldiers are cleaning the barrel, while a is holding some sort of tool. What appears to be an offer its taking a drink. There is a small sprue with two buckets on it, and an accessory sprue which provides various tools and tool boxes, the PE fret provides the doors for the open tool box and additional tools. The painting guide covers Vallejo, Mr. Color, LifeColor, Tamiya, Testors, AK Real Color, Humbrol, Revell, and Mission Models, with the names of the colours given in English and Ukrainian. Additional painted renditions of the accessories are also included for your use. Conclusion MiniArt's figures are excellent, and these figures can be used to give your Panzer a little human scale. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  25. Kugelpanzer 41(r) (40006) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models This is a hypothetical design from an alternative reality where ball-tanks were practical, and although there are some quite realistic looking pictures out there on the web, this is a decidedly "what-if" design for a small infantry tank that might have been quite handy for approaching bunkers or installations with significant light weapons presence. It does appear to have some weaknesses though, such as the little outrigger wheels that if shot out, would result in a seriously dizzy crew at best, so it's probably for the best that it remains in the realms of the fantastic. The ball hull is static, with a large wide track running around the circumference, propelled by the motor inside. There would be some serious torque transfer to the hull on acceleration or deceleration, but as this doesn't seem to adversely affect those big-wheel motorcycles, it wouldn't be a huge impediment, especially as the majority of the hull won't be moving. There is a crew of five, with the top-most crew member in each side running the weapons stations, and the front-facing crew driving and operating the forward machine gun. The final rear-facing crew operates another machine-gun that faces to the rear. Oddly, the main guns face sideways in ball-mounts, which would make shooting straight ahead difficult without cooperation from the driver, which could be tricky in such a confined, noisy environment. In reality, it would probably have been a massive failure, who know? but it's interesting nonetheless. The Kit This is the first real What-If subject from MiniArt, who usually keep their subjects in reality, or at least prototype form. A lot of effort has been put into making it appear real however, including a complete interior, which gives the model a bit more to it than an empty shell would have done, and also opens up the possibility for dioramas or vignettes. The kit arrives in standard sized MiniArt box, inside are 23 sprues in mid grey styrene of various sizes, a single sprue of clear parts, and a decal sheet. The instruction booklet is bound in a colourful glossy cover, with greyscale drawings inside, and the decal options printed on the inside covers front and back. Detail is really nice for a relatively small kit. This is the second of these "ball" tanks from Miniart the Russian version was reviewed here. Construction begins with the engine, which is quite a complex assembly, and has a large friction roller at the rear to apply power to the track. The crew seats are built up next, and then attached to the main frame, which consists of two large hoops with cross-members to retain its shape. Track rollers are fitted to the inside of the frames, and the engine, seats and ancillary equipment are all suspended from this. Ammo racks for the main guns are built up at the same time as the machine guns are made up, and all these sub-assemblies are installed into the hull halves, which have cut-outs for the ball-mounts, a radiator grille (backed with a fairly standard looking radiator), and conformal fuel tank. In the centre of each side is a crew hatch that is operated by a wheel, with arched hinges and interlock parts included. With the breeches and machine guns fitted from the inside, and the hatches put in their required positions, the halves are glued to the frames, and the hollow tipped gun barrels are added, plus a headlight with clear lens for night operations. The track is supplied in four parts with a chevron tread and matching joins to minimise clean-up. The four parts glue around the open section of the hull, with a scrap diagram showing the correct location on the lip, and of course the two "trainer-wheels" that stop it from tipping over. That's all there is to it! Markings As it's all fiction, it's probably more a case of choosing the scheme that appeals to you, and as there are a choice of six, it should be pretty easy. You can of course mix and match decals and scheme, as no-one (sane) is going to be complaining that it isn't accurate! From the box you can build one of the following: German Afrikakorps 1942-46 Assault unit Kreigsmarine Marine Corps 1942-46 Coastal defence mobile fire point, Normandy 1944-45 Captured Tank by 6th Australian Cavalry Div North Africa 1942 Captured tank in US Army Service, Europe 1944-46 Mobile firing point, armoured train 168, defence of Berlin 1945-46 Decals are by Decograf, with good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Taken from MiniArt's website Conclusion An trip into alternative history that's got a certain appeal to some, and no appeal to others. The internal structure has been well thought-out, and the variation in decal options makes for a fun project that shouldn't take too long to complete. Very highly recommended if you want something a bit different. Review sample courtesy of
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