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  1. IDF Puma AEV (84546) 1:35 HobbyBoss via Creative Models Ltd. The Puma is based on the Sho't, the Israeli version of the British Centurion tank, but vastly altered so as to be almost unrecognisable. Instead of a turret it has a flat armoured "blockhouse", additional armour packages and four crew stations with FN machine-guns, one of which can be operated remotely, and a larger crew hatch behind them. They can be used as personnel carriers with a crew of up to eight, but are most commonly seen as Armoured Engineering vehicles, sometimes fitted with mine clearance rollers, explosive mine clearance rocket systems as seen here, or dozer blades. When they are used for mine clearance, the Carpet Mine Clearance system launches a number of rockets with a fuel-air mix onto the area needing clearing, with the explosive overpressure very efficient in detonating most kinds of anti-tank mines. Any remaining mines are then detonated by the rollers, clearing the way of the advancing forces. Their heavy weight and relatively high speed make them ideal for clearing roadblocks, and their armour makes for a highly survivable platform that has seen extensive in IDF use since introduction in the early 90s. More recently, developments have been made to use the vehicles as an IED clearance asset, which requires the fitting of additional electronic equipment to jam signals of remote detonation commands. They are also using booby trap clearance equipment, requiring additional training for their crews for this potentially dangerous work. The Kit The original tooling of this kit was reviewed here in 2016, and this new edition adds the carpet mine clearing system mentioned above. There are twenty nine sprues and two separate hull parts in green styrene, four in brown containing the track links, a small clear sprue, fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a bag of twenty four tyres in rigid black styrene, a copper cable, length of chunky chain and a decal sheet. The instruction booklet and separate colour painting/decaling guide are found at the bottom of the box in my sample. A larger box than the original was necessary for the extra parts, and inside is a small divider to reduce movement during shipping and reduce chaffing of the plastic. Construction begins with the two types of road wheels, twelve of each in pairs, with separate flexible tyres slipped over the hubs after painting if you wish to ease that task, but do ensure you position them with the flange to the outside before gluing them in place. All the road wheels have a central cap added, as do the two idler wheels, while the drive sprockets do not. They are set aside while the suspension arms, dampers and bump-stops are added to the narrow lower hull, and are fitted in pairs-of-pairs to their axles along with a number of return rollers of various sizes. The front and rear bulkheads have inserts with additional detail, including towing loops and spare track-links, plus a large towing hitch under the rear end. The tracks of the individual link type, and are supplied on the brown sprues with 105 links required for each track run, which is one down from the original edition. The usual method of gluing them with liquid glue and then wrapping them around the sprockets should do the trick, holding them in place with anything handy to achieve the correct degree of sag. The fenders are festooned with additional equipment and stowage, and have separate end-caps to the front with cross-braces to strengthen them laterally. These fit into slots in the side of the lower hull, after which the upper hull gains focus. The Rafael Overhead Weapon Station (OWS) remote turret is built up first with a clear TV camera port, with the other three crew-served machine-guns next, followed by sundry equipment and antenna bases for the flat blockhouse area. The crew hatches have separate detailed hinge mechanisms, and these fit in place in either open or closed positions along with the weapons on their mounts. A triangular stowage area is made up from delicate frames that are protected by foam wrapped around the sprues, adding small parts along the way. This and the blockhouse are then fitted in position on the upper hull panel, which also has the driver's hatch with vision blocks situated just forward of the blockhouse in a recessed area. The upper hull and lower are now joined, and more detail is added to the fenders, consisting of small PE hooks and tiny parts are added along the length to hold the two tow cables, which are themselves made up from braided copper and styrene eyes. The side-skirts can then be added on their T-shaped brackets that mount on lugs moulded into the sides of the upper hull. The mine roller is then built with its multiple toothed wheels on two swing-arms that are formed from complex angular parts that make up a hollow assembly. These are both mounted to the base part with pivot-pins as well as some restraining cables that reduce bounce on detonation. This assembly is then set to one side while the large rear-mounted compartmentalised box is made up that contains the fuel-air bomblets. This is constructed from flat plates and risers in three layers, with the hydraulic ram that allow it to pivot for aiming added in a central slot on the base. The bomblets are made of two halves to which the vanes and stabiliser ring are attached, allowing a number to be dropped into their compartments. A base plate and PE blast deflectors are joined by a further layer, then the large C-shaped beam that supports and allows the movement of the weapon is assembled from a large number of parts. Finally, all three sub-assemblies are brought together in a surprisingly large finished model. Markings All Pumas are painted a base coat of Sinai Grey, and differ only by their unit markings and personalisations. There is only one decal option shown on the instructions, but if you know your IDF and/or Hebrew, there are clearly more possibilities as evidenced by the relatively large decal sheet and three number-plates, but as I don't profess to understand Hebrew, it would be difficult for me to comment further. The decals are printed in-house and are have good register, colour density and sharpness, so should be suitable for use unless you have something else in mind. Conclusion A nicely detailed and surprisingly long kit that just cries out for a crew and lots of stowage in that big basket. They are often seen with anti-slip coatings applied to the horizontal areas where the crew are likely to step, so it may be worthwhile applying some Cast-A-Coat or finely ground pumice to these areas, being careful to check your references first for the correct locations. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
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