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  1. P-47D-30RE Thunderbolt BasicKit (48023) 1:48 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The Thunderbolt developed from a series of less-than-successful earlier designs that saw Seversky aviation change to Republic, and the project designation from P-35, to P-43 and P-44, each with its own aggressive sounding name. After a realisation that their work so far wasn't going to cut it in the skies over war-torn Europe, they went back to the drawing board and produced the P-47A that was larger, heavier, and sported the new Pratt & Whitney R-2800 18-cylinder radial that would also power the B-26 Marauder, P-61 Black Widow and F4U Corsair amongst others. With it they added eight .50cal Browning machine guns aligned along the axis of flight in the wing leading edge. The P-47A was still a small aircraft, and was initially ordered without military equipment to allow faster completion, but it was considered inferior to the competition then available, so an extensive re-design was ordered that resulted in the much larger P-47B, firing up to 100 rounds per second from the eight .50cal wing guns, and with a maximum speed of over 400mph, leaving just the fuel load slightly short of requirements. It first flew mid-1941, and despite being a heavy-weight, its performance was still excellent, and the crash of the prototype didn’t affect the order for over 700 airframes, which were fitted with a more powerful version of the R-2800 and a sliding canopy that made ingress and egress more streamlined, particularly when bailing out of a doomed aircraft. Minor re-designs to early production airframes resulted in a change to the P-47C, which meant that fewer than 200 Bs were made, the C benefitting from improved radio, oxygen systems, and a metal rudder to prevent flutter that had been affecting control at certain points in the performance envelope. A quick way to spot a B is the forward raked aerial mast behind the cockpit, as this was changed to vertical on the C and beyond. The production from a new factory that had been opened to keep up with demand led to the use of the D suffix, although they were initially identical to the C, but the cowling flaps were amended later, making it easier to differentiate. Of course, the later bubble-canopy P-47s were far easier to tell apart from earlier marks, and constant improvement in reliability, performance and fuel load was added along the way. The P-47D-25 carried more fuel for extended range, including piping for jettisonable tanks on the bomb racks for even more fuel. Taking a cue from the British designers, the bubble-top was developed and that improved all-round visibility markedly, although like the later mark Spitfires, later models incorporated a fin extension to counter the yaw issues that resulted. Its weight, firepower and seemingly unstoppable character led to the nickname ‘Juggernaut’, which was inevitably shortened to ‘Jug’ and led to many, many off-colour jokes during and after the war. Jokes that are still soldiering on to this day, despite being eligible for a pensioner’s bus pass. The -30RE was built at the Farmingdale factory, and was fitted with dive brakes and some other minor changes, such as the fillet on the fin for added stability. The Jug was used extensively in the European theatre as an escort fighter, where it performed well in its ideal high-altitude environment. Later in the war when the Luftwaffe was a spent force, it also went on to become a highly successful ground attack fighter, strafing and bombing targets of opportunity, and eschewing camouflaged paintwork to add some extra speed with a smooth (and shiny) bare metal finish. As well as flying with the US forces, many P-47s were flown by the other Allies, including the British, Russians, and after the war many other countries as the remainder were sold off as war surplus. The Kit This is a variant of a brand-new tooling from MiniArt, in the process of creating a range of kits that are set to become the de facto standard Thunderbolt in this scale. The kit arrives in one of their sturdy top-opening boxes with a dramatic painting of the subject on the front, and profiles of the decal options on one side, reserving the other side for practical details and text. Inside the box are nineteen sprues in grey styrene, although in our sample many of the sprues were handily still connected by their runners, which simplified photography. There is also a clear sprue, two sheets of decals split between markings and stencils, and the instruction booklet, which is printed on glossy paper in colour, with profiles for the decal options on the rear pages, plus detailed painting and decaling information on the weapons and tanks on the back page. Detail is phenomenal, as we’ve come to expect from MiniArt in the last several years, with fine engraved panel lines, recessed rivets, plus raised and recessed features where appropriate, as well as fine detail in the cockpit, wheel bays and engine. If you’ve seen their AFV kits you’ll know what to expect, but this is something special in this reviewer’s humble opinion. Construction begins with the highly detailed cockpit, starting by putting the seat together from base, back and two side parts, which have elements of the seatbelts moulded-in, and are finished off by putting the remainder of the lap belts on the seat pan. A pair of support are inserted into recesses in the back of the seat, then it is installed on the ribbed floor, which has control column, plus seat-adjuster, and two other levers inserted, after which the rear bulkhead, one of the cockpit sidewalls and the front bulkhead are added, trapping the rudder bar with moulded-in pedals between them. The starboard sidewall has a hose added, and a scrap diagram shows the detail painting as well as the location of the decals that need to be applied. A cushion is applied to the head armour, then the other sidewall is detailed with four controls, numerous decals and more detail painting, so that it can be inserted along with the instrument panel and auxiliary panel, both of which have decals for the dials, with a choice of two for the main panel. The tail wheel is made up in preparation for closing the fuselage, building a four-part strut that holds the wheel on a one-sided yoke, then adding a small curved bulkhead with sprung bumper at the front, or an alternative assembly can be made from four different parts plus wheel, which is less detailed as the mechanism is hidden by a canvas cover. The fuselage halves are new toolings that have a fillet moulded into the spine in front of the tail fin, and are prepared by adding two extra detail parts to the short sill panels that have ribbing moulded-in, and should be painted to match the cockpit. At the rear on the underside, the supercharger fairing is slotted into the starboard fuselage along with the tail gear bay, and at the front, a cooling vent and a centreline insert are added to the underside, fitting another vent to the port fuselage half in the same place. The fuselage can then be closed around the cockpit, adding the aerial mast into a slot in the starboard spine, although whether that will remain there until the end of the building and painting is a moot point, and I’d be tempted to nip it off at the base, gluing the base in to act as a socket for the aerial after the heavy work is over. There is a fuselage insert in front of the cockpit, and that has the two-part gunsight with clear lens added to the centre, and another equipment box on the port side before it is inserted and joined by a firewall that closes the front of the fuselage. The engine is a highly-detailed assembly that is created by joining the two fully-rendered banks of pistons together by a keyed peg, adding the push-rod assembly to the front, the ends of which mate with a circular support that is the frame onto which the cowling panels are added later. The reduction-housing bell is detailed with magnetos and other parts, plus a collet at the centre where the prop-shaft would be. This is joined to the front of the engine as it is mounted to a bulkhead at the rear, again on a keyed ring. The intake trunking at the bottom of the nose cowling is made from five parts and installed in the lower panel, and you have a choice of open or closed vents on the sides of the fuselage by using the appropriate parts, and in the same step, the rudder is completed by adding an insert at its widest point (the bottom), to avoid sink marks, following which it is mated to the fin on three hinges, allowing deflection if you wish. Going back to the engine, the finished assembly is enclosed by four segments of cowling, and at the rear you have a choice of open or closed cooling gills, using different parts to achieve the look you want. Under the tail, your choice of wheel assembly is inserted in the bay, with doors on each side, or if you are building your model in flight, a closed pair of doors is supplied as a single part, adding a small outlet further forward under the fuselage. The upper wing halves have well-defined ribbing detail moulded into the interior, which is augmented by fitting an insert, two rib sections, front and rear walls that form the tabs to mate to the fuselage, and an additional structure that has a retraction jack pushed through hole in one of the wall segments. The flaps are made from two sides, plus a pair of hinges and these are glued into the trailing edge of the wing with the ailerons, the remaining details of the gear bay, which includes another retraction jack, the gun barrels on a carrier to achieve the correct vertically stepped installation, plus a pitot probe, and the wingtip light, which can be fitted now because the complete tip is moulded into the upper wing so that it can be portrayed as scale thickness. A scrap diagram of the lower wing shows the location of the flashed-over holes that you can drill out for weapons, then it can be glued to the upper, along with an insert at the rear of the gear bay, which includes a moulded-in dive brake, and another near the tip with a flush landing light. The same process is then carried out in mirror-image for the other wing, omitting the pitot and landing light insert, after which the wheels and their struts are made up, each wheel made from two halves plus a choice of three hub types, and two styles of wheels are also provided, one without a flat-spot, the other under load on the ground, leaving it for you to decide which you prefer. The struts are detailed with separate oleo scissor-links and stencil decals, and are mated with their wheels, plus the captive gear bay doors, the lower door made from two layers, again to avoid sink-marks. The wings are glued to the fuselage with a stepped joint making for a stronger bond, and the elevator panels are each slotted into the tail, and have separate flying surfaces that can be posed deflected, each one a single part for finesse. If you are building your model with the gear down, the inner gear bay doors are fitted to the fuselage, which contains the inner edge of the main gear bays, so remember to paint that while you are doing the rest of the bays. The engine assembly with cowling is also mated to the firewall, locating on a pair of alignment pins. If you plan on making an in-flight model, there are two single parts that depict the closed main bays, or you can insert the two struts with their wheels for the grounded aircraft. The four centreline supports are fitted between the main bays for some decal options, then the model can be flipped over to stand on its own wheels so that the canopy can be installed, gluing the windscreen at the front with a rear-view mirror on a stalk above the frame, and deciding whether pose the blown canopy open or closed after gluing a stiffener across the underside. The prop is also fitted, and this is made up from two parts, each consisting of two blades in opposition, and the spinner is a separate part that slots into the front section. The Jug could carry quite a load, whether it was extra fuel, rockets or bombs, and all these are included in the box, starting with the two-part pylons, which can be depicted as empty by inserting a cover over the lower surface. You have a choice of four styles of tank, a 108gal compressed paper tank with a ribbed nose and tail, a 200gal wide and flat tank, the third 150gal streamlined tank with flat mating surface and a peg at the rear that can be removed, and the last one slightly smaller at 75gal. All but the third option has a pair of sway-braces between them and the pylon, which fit into slots in the pylons. They are built in pairs to fit under the wings, but the first two options can also be used solo on the centreline support. The bombs use the same pylons, and can be built in 1,000lb, 500lb or 250lb variants, each one made from two halves for the body and two parts for the square tails, and mated to the pylon by a pair of sway-braces that varies depending on size. There is also a smoke generator that looks like a drop-tank with a spout on the rear, which would be used to lay smoke for the Allied troops below to cover their actions, at least temporarily. A large diagram shows the correct location for all the pylons and their loads, the centreline option having no additional pylon, mating via the four sway braces fitted earlier. Markings There are two decal options included on the large sheet, both of which have substantial differences in nose art on each side, which is why we’ve included a look at both side profiles to avoid confusion. The first page of profiles are in greyscale, and detail the location of the many stencils worn by the Jug, including the pylons, all to avoid over-complication of the main profiles. From the box you can build one of the following: 346th Fighter Sqn., 350th Fighter Group, 12th Air Force, Italy 1945. Pilots: Major Charles Gilbert II & 1St Lt. Homer J St.Onge 509th Fighter Sqn., 405th Fighter Group, Spring 1945. Pilot: Col. Chester Van Etten Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. The instrument decals on the sheet are separated by a box of dotted lines, and you have three choices of style. One is complete with the grey instrument panel for an all-in-one solution that is very realistic, while the others have just the dials that are printed in the shape of the panel, but are individual decals, so remember not to put them all in the water at once. Conclusion Another P-47D from MiniArt, expanding their catalogue further. Don’t fret, I’m sure the razorback will be along soon enough. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  2. MiniArt is to release 1/48th Republic P-47D/M Thunderbolt kits. Source: https://miniart-models.com/wp-content/catalogue/2022/index.html - ref. 48001 - Republic P-47D-25RE Thunderbolt - advanced kit - released - https://miniart-models.com/product/48001-p-47d-25re-thunderbolt-advanced-kit/ - ref. 48009 - Republic P-47D-25RE Thunderbolt - basic kit - released - https://miniart-models.com/product/48009-p-47d-25re-thunderbolt-basic-kit/ - ref. 48015 - Republic P-47D-28RE Thunderbolt - basic kit - released - https://miniart-models.com/product/48015-p-47d-28re-thunderbolt-free-french-air-force/ - ref. 48023 - Republic P-47D-30RE Thunderbolt - basic kit - released - https://miniart-models.com/product/48023-p-47d-30re-thunderbolt-basic-kit/ - ref. 48029 - Republic P-47D-30RA Thunderbolt - advanced kit - released https://miniart-models.com/product/48029-p-47d-30ra-thunderbolt/ Have a look at the kits reference numbers, there's room enough for Mustang, Spitfire, Bf.109, Fw.190, Zero, Hurricane etc. 😜 V.P.
  3. My finished Dingo Mk III, 1:35 by MiniArt. Kit: this is MiniArt’s Mk II kit built as a Mk III. The Mk III is very difficult to get hold of, but the Mk II contains all the parts needed to build a Mk III except for the canvas roof. Vehicle: A D squadron, 11th Hussars Dingo photographed in Tonning, Germany in 1945. It lacks the armoured roof so is either a Mk III or a Mk II converted to a Mk III. Reference photo at the bottom. The Build: The kit is pretty good out of the box but for this one I wanted to match my reference photo as much as possible, include detail I've discovered while researching, and expand my scratch-building skills. The Vickers K Gun is a spare from the Dragon SAS ETO jeep, the spare magazine drums come from Tamiya’s old desert SAS jeep, and the British Gerry cans, RAC helmets, and some stowage come from MiniArt kits. The wheels are Def Model weighted wheels, which freed up a wheel for the spare at the back. There is considerable scratch building as well. I'm pleased with the way this one is coming out but may build something larger next to let my eyes recover! Muddy footprints on the front from the crew climbing in and out. I drilled out the lightening holes in the brackets for the sand channel just below the front storage box as they are solid in the kit. The fatter roll is from a stowage set, the thinner one is the rolled up canvas roof which I scratch built and is often mounted higher, but from my reference photo I think on this vehicle it was lower. Quite a bit of chipping round the engine deck. It's a single metal cover and the examples I have seen are quite battered from being taken on and off all the time. Hidden now but I added the brake and electrical cables behind each wheel. There is no light on the rear mudguard as that seems to have been a post war feature. There is little mud or dust of the Dingo's wheels in my reference photo, I suspect it spent the last few days running along roads rather than cross-country. I replaced the protective ring round the base of the antennae with one from my stash box as the one provided is very thick. It is not quite square but I left it at a slight angle to represent wear and tear on the vehicle. Some interior shots. The war has just ended so my crew have got a camera out to take some snaps. The map is a WW2 British military map. I added the tan rectangles on the cabin lip which are the padding used to cushion the armoured roof if it was carried. Mk IIIs still had them in case it was decided to re-fit the roof later on. I have no clear photos of the mounting for a single Vickers K Gun so simply used the one from the Dragon jeep kit. I think in reality the mounting was thinner and simpler, but for practical model building this one works fine. The canvas cover for the rifle breech is scratch built, as are the brackets holding it in place at either end - MiniArt provide the rifle but nothing to secure it in place. You can just make out the scratch built gear pre-selector through the steering wheel on the right. I don’t have a clear photo of the interior of this Dingo so had to use some creative thought on where spare magazines would be kept. Some Dingos were equipped with twin Vickers K Guns and had racks holding half a dozen magazines on the cabin exteriors, but for mine with a single gun I have just stashed them in likely places in the cabin. It is almost impossible to access the interior of the cabin after it has been closed up so you need to plan painting and weathering (such as the colour of muddy footprints) in advance so it matches the exterior. A 1:35 Dingo is a small model! My Dingo collection - this Mk III on the left, a Mk II of the Inns of Court Regiment in the centre, and a Mk Ib from the 1st Armoured Division HQ on the right. My reference photo - Tonning, May 1945
  4. British Armoured Car Crew Special Edition (35387) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd All forces during WWII operated armoured cars, which whilst they were generally ineffective against tanks, were of immense use of great use when fighting infantry and lightly armoured vehicles or emplacements. They were also useful for reconnaissance, as they were able to cover greater areas in a shorter time than a similar-sized foot patrol, and had at least some level of protection if they should run into enemy forces, with the capability of withdrawing quickly, enabling the intelligence to get back to HQ for dissemination and a suitable response. This set contains five crew figures for a British armoured car of WWII, and arrives in a figure-sized end-opening box with a painting of the crew on the front, and instructions on the back, reusing the same painting but with arrows in blue pointing out suggested colours, and black showing the parts used for each one. Under the instructions is a chart that gives codes for Vallejo, Mr Color, AK RealColor, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya, plus colour swatches and generic names for completeness. Inside are five sprues of various sizes in grey styrene, two of which contain the figure parts, while the remaining three are full of accessories that can be utilised to personalise the figures, or as equipment to stow around the vehicle or diorama you are creating, with some finding their way into the spare parts box. The crew are in various poses, the most amusing of which is the driver, who is hunched over a large steering wheel, looking very intensely in the direction they are (hopefully) travelling. Three more figures are standing, two with one foot raised on something, the commander looking through his binoculars, while the other rests one hand on his hip, the other on a part of the vehicle. The fourth crewman is standing in a hatch with one hand on the deck, while he talks on the radio, whilst the final seated figure is leaning slightly back, supporting himself with one arm, and shading his eyes with the other hand. He and one of the standing figures are wearing shorts and have their long-sleeved shirt sleeves rolled up, while the rest of the crew are in long trousers and have their sleeves rolled down. This is because three of the crew are more suited to a North African location, whilst two are intended to be in European service. The commander is suitably ambiguous however, and can be used in either locale, and if you place some of the figures in turrets or hatches, their pant legs or nobbly knees won’t be seen anyway. The parts for each figure are found in separate areas of the sprues for ease of identification, and parts breakdown is sensibly placed along clothing seams or natural breaks to minimise clean-up of the figures once they are built up. The sculpting is typically excellent, as we’ve come to expect from MiniArt’s artists and tool-makers, with natural poses, drape of clothing and textures appropriate to the parts of the model. Conclusion Superb injection-moulded styrene figures from MiniArt that will bring any British Armoured car to life, with clothing suitable for hot or cooler climate operations. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  5. Garage Workshop (49011) 1:48 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Garage workshops are places where you'll find tons of tools, shelves, tool boxes and all sorts, usually covered in muck and rust, save for those occasional workshops that are scrupulously clean due to the owner’s fastidious nature. During wartime, garages were often overrun, or pressed into use as temporary military workshops by invading or defending troops, and if they weren't co-opted to help the military, they continued to be used by the few vehicles remaining operational during a period where fuel was usually a scarce commodity due to the needs of the military. The Kit This set arrives in a figure-sized end-opening box and inside are six sprues in grey styrene, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass in a card envelope, a small decal sheet and an instruction sheet printed on both sides of a glossy A4 sheet. As well as a few instructions for the more complicated assemblies there are also posters printed in colour that can be cut out and stuck to the walls of your intended diorama, plus a colour rendering on the rear of the box, pointing out all the parts, their colours and where to place the decals on the cans and containers. Some of the sprues will be familiar if not identical to others from this expanding range, and there is a wide selection of items to populate your model. From the box you can build the following: 2 x fuel ribbed drums 2 x double-ribbed fuel drums 1 x ribless fuel drum 1 x Manual pump unit 1 x Bench-mounted grinder with two wheels 1 x Pillar drill 1 x Anvil 2 x Bench vice (2 types) 6 x Square fuel can of various sizes 2 x Triangular profile oil can 1 x Compressor with wheeled chassis 1 x Hacksaw 3 x Hammer 1 x G-Clamp 1 x Belly-Brace Drill 1 x Funnel 1 x Oil Can 2 x 5-shelf storage unit 2 x large 8 drawer cupboard on short legs 2 x tool box, one open, one closed with a styrene and PE toolkit and PE lid There are various other small hand tools such as clamps, hammers, wrenches, oil cans and other items dotted around the sprues and there are some decals for the cans as per the instructions. The larger assemblies are covered in the instructions and have many parts that result in faithful representations of the original that would be difficult to create yourself, but now you don't have to. Markings There are a few decals on the small sheet with their locations shown on the instructions. The various posters, 10 in total, range from car adverts through propaganda posters and even one tiny picture of a bathing scantily clad lady that is too small to make out any details. They're all in different languages too, so there will probably be one for most locations, within reason. Conclusion Another useful set from MiniArt, and even if you're not going to use them for an actual garage diorama, there's a lot of fodder for your models. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  6. M3 Stuart Initial Production Interior Kit (35401) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The M3 Stuart was designed before the US went to war, based upon the experiences of the British, which led to the US top brass deciding that their M2 light tank was obsolete. While the radial engine M3 was an improvement over the M2, it suffered from an underpowered M6 main gun at only 37mm, which although it was improved later in the war, the crews had to suffer with it for some considerable time. The British troops in Africa used it first against the superior tanks of the Afrika Korps, but fared badly in combat, suffering from the lack of range of the Stuart in the wide-open spaces of the African desert. It was fast and manoeuvrable however, and a British driver’s comment that she was a "honey" to drive led to one of its nicknames during the war. The M3A1 was an improved version that deleted the sponson mounted machine guns of the initial production, and some of these used more conventional diesel engines instead of the bulky radials, which gave the crew more room for other equipment. It also had a new turret with a basket for the turret crew to stand in, and no cupola for the commander that gave the tank a lower profile, and added a gun stabilisation system that helped with vertical alignment of targets while the tank was on the move, ironing out the bumps for the gunners. In British service it was known as the Stuart III and with the diesel engine version was designated the IV. It was hopelessly outclassed by Axis armour in Europe for tank-on-tank engagements, and was soon relegated to infantry support and recce roles, where it performed well. It was more successful in the Pacific theatre against the lightly armoured Japanese tanks in the jungle, where medium and heavy tanks could soon flounder in the mud and jungles. It continued to be used to the end of the war by the Allies in the Pacific area, although Russia, another user of the Stuart disliked it intensely and refused to take the upgraded M5 design that followed the M3A3. Variants were used well into the 60s, and Brazil even built their own version with redesigned upper hull and carrying a 90mm gun. Paraguay still had a few of its ancient original stock of 12 beyond the turn of the millennium, which is astonishing, considering the age of the machine. The Kit This is a brand-new tooling from our friends at MiniArt, which are producing an amazing output of new kits and partial re-tools in recent years, which is doubly-impressive given the situation in Ukraine over the last few years. This kit arrives in a top-opening box with a painting of an initial production Stuart on the front, clearly illustrating the prominent sponson-mounted machine guns that it shared with early variants of its stablemate, the M3 Grant/Lee. Inside the box are thirteen sprues in grey styrene, which is at variance from the sprue map, which shows twenty grey sprues, but this is due to some of the sprues being linked together on runners in our example. There is also a clear sprue, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass in a card envelope, a decal sheet, and the instruction booklet, which is printed in colour on glossy paper, with profiles of the decal options on the rearmost pages. Detail is excellent as we’ve come to expect from MiniArt, and as this is an Interior Kit, you also get the complete engine and the entire crew compartment, for which the hull panels are detailed on both sides, although the interior has a few unavoidable ejector-pin marks, as they must go somewhere, after all! The running gear is similarly well-defined, and the tracks are supplied as link-and-length, taking the benefits of individual links and making the job a lot less labour intensive. Construction begins with the vehicle’s floor, laying out driver controls, foot pedals and other equipment, plus a choice of two styles of rectangular floor hatch, just in case you have a preference. The transmission and front axle assembly is made up from five sculpted and cooling-finned parts, which is then detailed with pivots, end-caps and linkages before it is installed on the floor, adding a short length of wire to link the assembly to a nearby conduit if you feel adventurous, then building up a box with a padded top, and two crew seats from base frame, cushion and back cushion, with a pair of PE lap belts wrapped around from the rear. The curved transmission armour on the front of the tank is detailed with various towing eyes, additional bolt heads that are cut from the sprue runner, and a central frame that can be folded from PE or replaced by a single styrene part. When it is complete, the interior face should be painted so that it can be installed on the front of the floor, locating on a trio of ledges with the floor inverted. The sloping drive-shaft tunnel is made from three main parts, adding a bottle to one side, a decal nearby, and a small grab-handle on the opposite side. This is lowered into position in the centre of the floor, with a small cut-out allowing it to fit over a transverse suspension bar moulded into the floor. A very busy engine firewall is based upon a rectangular panel with cut-outs, onto which a fire extinguisher and other equipment are installed, followed by a pair of radiator cores and associated hoses, plus a Thompson machine gun latched in place, minus magazine. The completed assembly is slotted vertically into the floor, which will later mount the radial engine on the opposite side, but first there is much more space to take up with equipment. A square(sih) stowage box with soft top is built and installed in front of the firewall on the left, a two-part instrument panel is attached to the transmission housing, applying three dial decals into the circular faces, making another diagonal panel from three-parts, with a PE dial in the centre, which then has a decal applied over it. The driver’s seat is emplaced behind his controls, fixing another box made earlier into position on the right side behind the bow-gunner’s seat, with another smaller box nestled behind that, and a pair of ammo boxes in front of the gunner for his immediate use in battle. Just because war isn't quite dangerous enough, a four-part jerry can is made and sited behind the driver in case they run short, although its usefulness might not yet be apparent because the fuel tanks are next to be made. First however, another small farm of boxes on a palette is made and attached at two points on the bulkhead on the right side, which even has a canteen flask attached to one side. Working on the engine bay now, the two fuel tanks are situated in the front corners of this area, with caps on top that can be accessed from the engine deck by removing two large armoured covers. Another tank is installed in the rear left of the compartment, adding various manifolds and hoses once they are in position before the curved engine support is slotted into the bay near the front. The Continental W-670 engine is next, with all seven cylinders moulded in this boxing, all of which have separate head parts, three pairs of which are linked by a narrow curved rod. A conical fairing is arranged around the forward end to duct the cool air from the large cooling fan, with a cross-brace and circular boss across the open space at the forward end. The fan is mounted on this boss, with a stub-axle on the outer face, with all the blades moulded into this well-detailed part. The tinwork is substantially different from an aviation variant of this motor, but the push-rods, intake hoses and ancillaries are similar, while the exhaust take-off doesn’t have the same constraints on it. The two exhaust manifolds carry the fumes from three and four pistons each, reducing to two larger pipes that end with a stepped joint to strengthen the join between it and the exhaust pipes. The intake manifold at the bottom of the engine is fed by two pipes that head up the sides of the engine, covered by a substantial engine carrier beam that also holds additional ancillaries, with the hole in the centre allowing more to protrude. More ancillaries including distributor and belt are layered over the carrier, with two tubular mufflers attached to the tops of the exhaust pipes, after which it is fitted into the engine bay, adding a cover to the top portion between the fuel tanks. Only now can the hull sides be fitted, but not before they are detailed with various parts, including electrical junction boxes, ammo boxes and other small parts, adding final drive housings to the front ends, using the bogie axle ends to locate the parts on the sides of the floor. The rear bulkhead is built with a hatch space in the upper half, with a dash-pot on the inside and a beam across the top edge, gluing it to the rear of the vehicle with the assistance of a scrap view from below. The rear hatch is in two sections, one of which has a PE clapping plate, both having handles, while the left door has a strange pot with a straw fixed to the inner face, and both doors can be posed open or closed as you wish. Above the hatch is an overhang with a PE mesh horizontal insert and styrene rear, with a couple of towing eyes mounted on the lower edge of the bulkhead. The next assembly is a thirty-cal machine gun, which has a cloth dump bag half moulded-in, finished by an additional part, and with an ammo box with a short length of link under the breech with a two-part mount. This is slotted through the glacis plate in a mount from the inside, adding a two-part instrument panel with five dial decals in front of the driver, plus a strengthening strap under the driver’s hatch. It is glued into position on the front of the tank, fitting the transmission inspection hatch with handle to the centre, and adding a pair of towing shackles to the front. The driver’s hatch is in two parts, and can be posed closed for battle, or with both parts folded open to allow the driver to see the full vista. A two-layer T-shaped cross-member is located over the upper glacis, adding a PE bracket that supports the open driver’s hatch, and a pair of bearing spacers to the final drive housings. As already mentioned, the earliest Stuarts had sponson-mounted machine guns, which extend from the main hull out over the tracks, roughly along the middle third of the vehicle’s length. The two parts are glued into position, and two .30cal machine guns are trapped between two-part mounts, one fitted to each sponson on a curved adapter with a three-part magazine that has a short length of link visible at the top. In the space behind the guns, boxes of ammo cans are stacked, leaving sufficient space for the two-part radio box in the left sponson, adding a length of power cord later in the process. A battery box is situated at the rear of the right sponson, adding a couple of grab handles, and inserting a divider between it and the flammable ammo storage. The sides of the sponsons can then be built around the equipment, painting the interior faces as you go, consisting of a short wall to the rear, a long panel along the side, and an angled panel with exit for the machine gun muzzle at the front. This is repeated for both sides, fitting two hatches to the front of the upper hull after adding an extra layer behind, a clear vision port, and openers to the sides. If you intend to pose the hatches up, you have the option of leaving the inclement weather inner hatches in position, which have large panes of glass and windscreen wipers to save filling the tank with precipitation. The open outer hatches are propped up with a pair of short stays from their top hinges. The hull roof is next, starting with the panel that has the turret ring moulded-in, adding rollers in housings to the underside, additional nuts on the top ring, and a pair of filler caps on the deck behind it, shaving away clasp details around them, and fitting a grab handle to one side. The completed part is lowered into place on the hull, adding a horn to the glacis next to the bow gun, including a small length of wire between it and the nearby bracket. Turning to the engine deck, four holes are drilled out on the diagonal deck panel to fit handles, gluing it in position and fitting a pair of rear lights on brackets to the sides, adding a little connecting wire if you wish. The main deck panel has a box added to the underside before it too is placed over the engine, adding a PE shroud to the forward edge to deflect incoming rounds or debris. Another PE bracket for one of the aerials is attached to the right, with another mounted on the side wall slightly lower and further to the side than the other. The aerial bases are each made from two parts, adding 73mm of stretched sprue, wire, or carbon fibre rod to represent the aerials themselves. A pair of dome-topped cylindrical airboxes are built from four parts each and attached to the rear of the sponson on brackets on both sides. We finally get some wheels for the bus, starting with the over-size idler wheels, which are trapped between two halves of the swing-arm, choosing one of two styles depending on where in production the tank fell. The idler wheels have PE rims glued on each side, building two of these assemblies, plus two more drive sprockets for the other end of the track run. The road wheels are mounted in two-wheel bogies, each one made from ten parts, building four in total, handed for each side. The road wheels flex-fit into position between the arms of the bogies, so that they can be mounted on the sides of the vehicle in shallow recesses along with the idlers and drive sprockets, with three return rollers on short axles above the main run. As discussed earlier, the tracks are link-and-length, using long single-part lengths under the wheels, individual links around sharp curves, and shorter lengths where the tracks are relatively straight. The various sections are attached to the sprues at the edges, and each short portion has a unique tab and slot format to ensure that parts can only be put together in the correct manner. There are a few ejector-pin marks on the inside of the longer track link sections, but these are raised and on flat surfaces, so shouldn’t be difficult to remove with a sanding stick or sharp blade, and won’t slow you don’t too much. When the track runs are suitably cured, fenders are added over the open areas, the rear straight sections fitted with a curved end to reduce kicked up mud, while the front section have inner side skirts to prevent mud ingress, which is improved further by gluing a PE web between it and the leading edge of the glacis plate, along with a PE stiffening strap further back. Before we start festooning the vehicle with pioneer tools, a pair of headlamps with clear lenses are placed, one on each fender protected by a PE cage, and both with a short length of wire leading back to hole in the glacis plate. To apply the pioneer tools you have two choices, the first and easiest method is to use fully styrene tools that have their clasps moulded-in. You can fit the same variety of tools to the rear of the vehicle removing the slightly raised location points from the styrene panel, and replacing them with PE clasps around separate tools that have no clasps moulded-in. An axe, pickaxe shaft and head, and a shovel are included, with a scrap diagram showing the finished area with PE clasps. More tools are located on the forward sponsons, with the same choice of moulded-in styrene clasps or separate PE fittings, which again have the raised marks removed first, with a completed diagram showing their locations once in place. The same process can be carried out for the single towing rope that the modeller must provide from either a 157mm length of braided wire or thread, fitting a pair of styrene eyes to the ends, and clamping it in place with PE brackets along the left sponson and fender. Now for the turret, starting with the main 37 mm M6 gun, the gun tube formed by a single part with hollow muzzle that is surrounded by a two-part frame, and has the halves of the breech closed around the rear, adding extra detail on the right, and a breech protector to the left side, followed by three-part pivots that are fixed around the gun without glue, then the coaxial machine gun is attached to the right side of the breech, and its ammo box is located on the left side, fed by a ‘bridge’ of link over the main gun in a guide to the breech of the smaller gun. The sighting tube is installed on the left with an adjustment wheel, pushing the barrel through the mantlet and inserting it into the front of the turret, which has been made from a well-detailed ring, with the faceted turret sides arranged around it after being detailed themselves. The roof has a yoke inserted on its underside in stowed or combat positions, and is glued in place, sliding the mantlet armour over the main and coax guns from in front. The commander’s cupola is similarly faceted, and each side is prepared by fitting a vision block in the slot, creating an asymmetrical hexagonal shape, and deciding whether to pose the turret crew’s vision ports open or closed. The commander's hatch is a flat panel with a lock on the upper edge, and hinges on the lower, which can be fitted open or closed, with more vision ports on the turret sides posed open or closed around the rest of the perimeter. Another .30cal machine gun is trapped between a two-part mount with adjuster handle, and fixed to a short column that is secured to the left side of the turret on curved brackets moulded into the surface. An optional two-part ammo box with a length of link can be fixed to the side of the gun, or if you wish to leave it off, an alternative stub part is supplied in its place. Before putting the turret into position, a few small parts are added under the gun near the hand-winding wheel for the turret. With that, the turret can be dropped into position to complete the model. Markings There are four decal options included on the small sheet, and you’d be right to guess that they are all in some variation of WWII Allied green, with only their individual markings to tell them apart. From the box you can build one of the following: Royal Tank Corps., British Army, Tactical Training School, Egypt, Summer 1941 2nd Armoured Division, Louisiana, USA, Autumn 1941 1st Armoured Division, Rock Hill, South Carolina, USA, Autumn 1941 Unknown Cavalry Regiment, Camp Funston, USA, Spring 1942 Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion It’s great to have this much detail present in a newly tooled kit of the diminutive Stuart, or Honey as the Brits called it, and it deserves to become the de facto standard for the scale. If interiors aren’t your thing however, just wait a little while and an exterior-only kit will be along shortly. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  7. StuG III Ausf.G Feb 1943 Alkett Prod. (72101) 1:72 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The StuG is a popular German WWII AFV, and the more you learn about it, the more obvious it becomes why. The SturmGeschütz III was based upon the chassis of the Panzer III, but removed the turret and front deck, replacing it with an armoured casemate with a lower profile that mounted a fixed gun with limited traverse. It was originally intended to be used as infantry support, using its (then) superior armour to advance on the enemy as a mobile blockhouse, but it soon found other uses as an ambush predator, and was employed as a tank destroyer, lurking in wait for Allied forces to stumble haplessly into its path, where it could be deadly. With the advances in sloped armour employed by the Soviets, the original low velocity 75mm StuK 37 L/24 cannon was replaced by a higher velocity unit that was also used in the Panzer IV for tank-on-tank combat, extending the type’s viable career to the end of WWII. The earliest prototypes were made of mild steel and based on Panzer III Ausf.B chassis, and whilst they were equipped with guns, they were unsuitable for combat due to the relative softness of the steel that would have led to a swift demise on the battlefield, being withdrawn in '41-42. By this time the StuG III had progressed to the Ausf.G, which was based on the later Panzer III Ausf.M, with a widened upper hull and improvements in armour to increase survivability prospects for the crew. Many of the complicated aspects of the earlier models that made them time-consuming and expensive to produce were removed and simplified by that time, which led to several specific differences in some of the external fitments around the gun, such as the Saukopf mantlet protector. The Ausf.G was the last and most numerous version, and was used until the end of the war with additional armour plates often welded or bolted to the surface to give it enhanced protection from Allied tanks and artillery. The Kit This is a new tooling from MiniArt in their nascent 1:72 armour line, which is bringing high levels of detail to this smaller scale, with MiniArt’s engineers and tool designers applying their skills to a scale that has been neglected to an extent for many years. The kit arrives in a small top-opening box, and inside are nine sprues of various sizes in grey styrene, a small clear sprue with decals in a Ziploc bag, a Photo-Etch (PE) brass fret in a card envelope, and the instruction booklet in full colour in portrait A5 format. Detail is excellent, including weld-lines and tread-plate moulded into the exterior of the hull, with plenty of options for personalisation, and link-and-length tracks to provide good detail without making the building of the tracks too time consuming. Construction begins with the lower hull, which is put together with five parts creating the ‘tub’, then adding the three-part glacis plate at the front, and the exhaust assembly at the rear, accompanied by duct-work and overhanging vents with a PE mesh panel underneath. One decal option has a few holes drilled into the rear overhang before installation for use later, then various suspension parts are applied to the sides that have the swing arms and axles already moulded-in. Six paired return rollers are made up, along with twelve pairs of road wheels, plus two-part idler wheels and drive sprockets, which have an alternative front sprocket face for you to choose from. Once all the wheels are installed on their axles, the tracks can be built, utilising the long lengths on the top and bottom, adding shorter lengths to the diagonal risers, and individual links around the sharper curved sections toward the ends of the runs. There are eight individual links at the rear, and six at the front, plus another between the lower and its diagonal, each link having three sprue gates in sensibly placed locations. The gun shroud is built from four parts and mounted on a carrier between a pair of trunnions, which is then fitted to a pivot plate and set aside while the casemate front is made from two sections. First however, the fenders are glued to the sides of the hull, locating on three lugs moulded into the sides. The gun shroud is slotted into the casemate, with a mantlet slid over the front, after which the lower heavily armoured and bolted lower casemate front has a vision slot and armour cover applied before it is glued to the bottom of the casemate, along with the sides and rear bulkhead, attaching it to the lower hull while the glue cures to ensure everything lines up. A convoy light is glued into the centre of the glacis, then the engine deck is made, fitting two-part sides, and a single rear panel that is aligned when the deck is installed on the rear of the hull. Two PE grilles are glued over the outer cooling intakes, and a length of spare track is fitted over the rear bulkhead of the casemate, adding armoured covers over the five vents on the engine deck, with a choice of cast or bolted vents on those at the rear of the deck. A choice of three styles of cupola can be made, each one made from a differing set of parts, based around the commander’s vision blocks and central hatch, adding wire grab handles from your own stock where indicated, then inserting the completed assembly in the cut-out on the roof, adding a periscope forward of the cupola from within the roof. The barrel is moulded as a single tubular section with a hollow muzzle glued to the business end, and sleeve moulded into the front of the saukopf, which is an inverted trapezoid with an optional stowage box on top for one option, and an alternative site on the engine deck for the other decal options. PE brackets are added around the vehicle, with pioneer tools built up and fitted where there is space as the build progresses. The gunner’s hatch can be posed closed, or replaced by two separate parts in the open position, adding another scratch-built grab handle from wire, then fitting a drum magazine to the supplied MG34, sliding it through the frontal bullet shield with PE support and another DIY grab handle before putting it in place in front of the gunner’s hatch. Towing eyes are supplied for the tow cable, but you must provide the braided thread or wire to make the cable itself, attaching one to each fender, fixing fire extinguisher, jack block, jack, barrel cleaning rods etc. to various places, and for one decal variant, two stacks of wheels are mounted on long pins on the rear bulkhead, making the pins from more of your own wire. Option four also has a PE railing around the engine deck, which has a basket to hold two jerry cans, each one made from three parts, and slotted into position at the rear of the deck. Two scrap diagrams show how the forward ends of the railings attach to the back of the casemate, and the other four decal options can have stacks of road wheels stowed on the back of the engine deck on the aft vents, again on pins made from your own wire stocks. Two aerials of 30mm each are also needed to complete the model. Markings There are five decal options on the small sheet, with various schemes ranging from pure panzer grey to dunkelgeb, with camouflage or distemper over the top. From the box you can build one of the following: Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 189, Eastern Front, Spring 1943 21 Luftwaffen-Feld-Division ‘Adler Division’, Staraya Russa Region, Eastern Front, Spring 1943 21 Luftwaffen-Feld-Division ‘Adler Division’, Staraya Russa Region, Eastern Front, Spring 1943 Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung ‘Grossdeutschland’ Okhtryka, Ukraine, Eastern Front, Spring 1943 Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 210, Eastern Front, 1943 Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion MiniArt bring their talents to bear on 1:72 scale, releasing a subject they have already researched for their 1:35 scale range, resulting in a highly detailed model with plenty of options for personalisation. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  8. Street Musicians 1930-40s (38078) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Musicians playing their instruments on the street would be a familiar sight to anyone from any era, as that’s how many of them have made their living over the years, especially before recording contracts and gigs were a thing. They’d pitch-up, p ut out a bowl or some other receptacle for donations, grab a chair if necessary, and strum, pluck or blow their instrument of choice until they were too tired, were moved on, or earned enough to keep them fed for a little while longer. Of course, modern streets are more closely monitored for street performers, however before WWII there was little in the way of regulation, so performers could earn a living without the law getting in their way, although a hat or bag full of change would be a tempting target for vagabonds and thieves. This set arrives in a figure-sized box with the three musicians depicted in a high-quality painting on the front, and split apart in instruction form on the rear, complete with instructions for some of the more complex assemblies, and a paint chart that gives codes for Vallejo, Mr Color, AK RealColor, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya, plus colour swatches and generic names for completeness. Inside the box are five sprues in grey styrene, three containing figure parts, the remainder the accessories. Two of the figures are standing, one playing a fiddle/violin with the open case collecting his winnings, while the other standing man is a crooner with an acoustic guitar, supporting it on his raised knee, resting his foot on a small stool. The remaining figure is seated on a dining-style chair, playing an accordion, with the case in front collecting change, and a walking stick laid across it, implying that he may be blind, or at least somehow disabled. The parts for each figure are found on separate sprues for ease of identification, and parts breakdown is sensibly placed along clothing seams or natural breaks to minimise clean-up of the figures once they are built up. The sculpting is typically excellent, as we’ve come to expect from MiniArt’s artists and tool-makers, with natural poses, drape of clothing and textures appropriate to the parts of the model. The accessories include the two seats, violin, guitar, and accordion, but there are several percussion, string and wind instruments included on the sprue for use elsewhere, or for depositing in the spares box. Conclusion Perfect for filling some space on a street, or giving a focal-point to a milling crowd of bystanders for your next diorama. Review sample courtesy of
  9. The last radio message sent by the survivors of Col John Frost's paras at the north end of Arnhem Bridge, just before they surrendered on 20th September 1944. This small diorama consists of a mixture of Miniart, Dragon and Tamiya figures. The Miniart ones were disappointingly poor and softly moulded, only saved by being supplied with resin heads(although still not as good as Hornet). The guy being searched had to have a hand transplant as the originals were like spades! Luckily I had a couple of Alpine ones in the spares box. The seated figure is an amalgam of bits from the box with a green stuff putty blanket. Road is made from individually cast and laid plaster cobbles, which took a while but I think looks better than moulded roads. Zen modelling at its best. Discarded webbing is made from masking tape and spares from the Miniart box. All comments welcome as usual
  10. US Army K-51 Radio Truck with K-52 Trailer (35418) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The Chevrolet G506 truck formed the basis of a range of 4x4 load-carrying vehicles that could carry up to 1.5 tonnes of cargo, men or equipment. They were initially made under the 4100 code, then were renamed as the 7100 series, and usually had a standard enclosed cab, with a 3.9L straight-6 engine under the bonnet, and a four-speed “crash” (non-synchromesh) gearbox putting out a little over 80hp through all four wheels. It rapidly became the Allies’ standard light truck, and served in substantial quantities on the Western Front, with the Soviets on the Eastern Front, and the forces fighting Japan in the Far East. There were many variants, some in US Army service, others in USAAF service, with almost 50,000 of two specific types, the G7107 and G7117 sent over to the Soviets in large numbers under the Lend/Lease program. The G7105 variant was a fully-enclosed van-bodied truck that had a full metal bodyshell to protect the contents, and thanks to its twin wheeled rear axle, it was capable of carrying the same load as its open-topped siblings. They were used extensively by the Signal Corps, but are relatively rare in the overall panoply of chassis types for this series. Their low production quantities and participation in WWII trimmed their numbers further, so they are quite rare compared to others of the type, but some still survive of course, and can be seen occasionally at historic vehicle rallies and get-togethers of like-minded enthusiasts. When it is full of radio equipment and personal gear, a trailer expands its carriage capacity to include a generator or similarly heavy piece of kit. The Kit This is a new boxing of a recent G506 tooling from MiniArt, and is one of a large and still expanding range that is to be found in your favourite model shop. It’s a full interior kit, with engine, cab and both load areas included, along with some appealing moulding and detail, particularly in the cab, the equipment and those chunky tyres. It arrives in one of MiniArt’s medium-sized top-opening boxes, and inside are twenty-six modular sprues in grey styrene, a clear sprue, Photo-Etch (PE) sheet in a card envelope along with a short length of metal chain in a heat-sealed bag, decal sheet and glossy instruction booklet with colour profiles on the front and rear pages. Detail is excellent, and well up to MiniArt’s usual standards, using PE parts to enhance the model, and finely moulded details of the chassis, running gear, trailer, cab and interior areas. Construction begins with the ladder chassis, which has leaf-springs fore and aft, cross-braces and rear towing eye fitted to create the structure, then has the fuel tank with PE retention bands, PE rear bumper irons folded around a styrene jig, and axles installed on leaf springs, before the brake drums/hubs, battery and external brackets are added to the chassis rails. The transfer box and drive-shaft join the two axles together, and a steering linkage and box are inserted into the front of the chassis, then the engine is built up based on the straight six-cylinder block, with carburettor, dynamo and transmission added, plus the serpentine pulleys and fan at the front. The engine and substantial front bumper iron are fitted to the chassis, assembling the exhaust and its muffler, which slip into the underside of the chassis from below, held in position on PE brackets at the exit. The wheels are built with singles at the front, made from two parts each, and with twin wheels at the rear, again with separate outer sidewalls. Each wheel slips over its respective axle, with the hub projecting through the central hole. The three-part radiator housing is layered up, with the rear part having a hole that allows the air from the fan to cool the radiator when stationary, mounting on the front of the chassis and mating to the input and outlet pipes already in position. The crew cab is next, beginning with the firewall and forward sidewalls. The firewall is detailed with dash pots fixed to the forward side, and is set aside until it is needed toward the end of building the bodyshell, which is next. The sides of the van have a separate ribbing insert layered on the insides, to be joined to the floor after the raised platform for the crew seats is installed, fixing two four-part seats on top, and a small forest of levers in the centre of the floor. The floor is inverted to install the sidewalls, putting a short fuel filler tube on the outside that matches up with the extension within that leads to the tank. This boxing has a wall of radio gear assembled on the left side from a host of parts, and a long bench seat along the other with four cushions as a single part, with some impressive fabric sag moulded-in. Above the seats is a double cabinet with fake sliding doors, and PE chain straps at the sides, which is fitted near the rear along with a fire extinguisher on the right side. The rear light clusters are mounted on PE brackets on the rear of the side panels, one per side, and as is often the case with instruction steps, they may be better left of until after main painting. The rear valance plugs into the floor on two pins, joining the two side panels together on the lower edge. The dashboard inserts into the A-pillars that are moulded into the roof, with seven decals for the instruments and stencils on the glove box, plus two more on the headliner by the rear-view mirror, which installs into the front of the roof panel. The steering column is joined to the underside of the dash, adding a courtesy light, vent and six curved ribs to the inside of the roof in grooves. The rear doors and their interior cards are assembled with their handles, locking mechanism in a fairing with a flat PE surround, plus handles on both sides of the right door, and clear window glass with rounded corners. The crew doors and their interior cards are assembled with handles and window winders, plus the clear window glass that can be posed open or closed at your whim. The windscreen frame has the two clear panes fitted, and has a pair of PE brackets and styrene wingnuts that are installed either vertically for closed, or at an angle for open, with a scrap diagram showing the correct orientation of the various parts, and below it on the scuttle is a ventilator panel that can be posed open or closed as you prefer. The steering wheel is fixed to the top of the column, the diagonal kick panel is joined with the firewall and fitted out with three foot pedals, and a button that I think is the parking brake. The roof and firewall assembly are fitted to the growing bodyshell assembly with a choice of aerial bases on the roof in front of the vent cowling that sits on a PE base, while the rear doors are installed within the frame in the open or closed position if you prefer, adding a short stay from wire of your own stock, and two PE eyes on the corners of the roof nearby. Two rear arches are fitted under the floor into recesses, projecting past the line of the bodywork to encompass the twin rear wheels, then with the body righted, a pair of wing mirrors are glued onto the cab in front of the doors at handle-height on long struts with PE brackets at the bottom, posing the doors open or closed again as you wish. The body and chassis are mated, and a choice of cowling panels that fit to the sides of the engine compartment after adding a V-brace under the bonnet, then fitting the front wings that incorporate the section of running boards under the doors that joins up with the rear boards. The front of the vehicle has its headlights with clear lenses plus sidelights fitted to the wings, and PE windscreen wiper blades are hung from the top of the frame on styrene arms, then the front grille is built. You may have noticed that this appears on the sprues too for a simpler build process, but a more detailed and realistic grille can be fabricated from the PE parts on the fret. It is constructed completely from PE, and two styrene jigs are included on the sprues to assist with accurately creating the correct shape. The lower rail, light cages and curved side panels are made up on one jig from a single piece of PE, while the centre panel is folded up on another, then they’re joined together ready to be attached to the front of the engine bay. There are two PE brackets stretched across the front of the radiator, but if you elected to use the styrene grille, this process is condensed down to nipping the part from the sprue, cleaning the sprue gates, and gluing it to the front of your truck, removing a small curved section from the left of the styrene grille as it is glued in place. The bonnet can be fitted open or closed with a PE stay that is provided in the centre of the panel for the open option. Two additional stowage boxes are built out on the sides of the truck, with separate doors, PE padlocks, and a plate on the top to protect it from damage, one of them having a pioneer tool rack applied to the rear side, which has PE clasps and styrene tools provided to complete the details. It is attached to the right stowage box, and has a wire reel made up and fixed on a pin in a hole behind it, adding a choice of aerials and their tie-downs on the roof, varying depending on which aerial base you installed earlier. A small PE strap stops the roll unreeling during transit, just like the real (reel?) one. K-52 Trailer During WWII, the US used two small two-wheeled trailers for transporting additional equipment and other essential stores around the battlefield, towed by trucks and other vehicles that had at least a ¾ ton payload carried internally. There were two major variants, one for carrying many types of equipment and designated as G-518, the other a specialist water carrier that was given the catalogue designation G-527. The main contractor was Ben-Hur Manufacturing Co., which garnered it the nickname ‘Ben-Hur Trailer’, and its 1-ton load capacity in 3.2m3 volume meant that it saw a lot of action, mostly ignored by war historians and modellers alike, as it was a transport and not as interesting as the things that went bang. Nevertheless, there were over a quarter of a million built, and many of them spent their days dutifully following a Chevrolet truck around the roads and tracks of Europe and the Far East. This is a derivative of a new tooling from MiniArt, launched just after the G-527 Water Buffalo we reviewed recently, this kit has excellent detail as usual with MiniArt, including a full chassis, well-rendered chunky treaded tyres, and even a set of slat extensions to the sides of the structure with moulded-in wooden texture. Construction begins with the bodywork, starting with the two sides that have leaf springs moulded-in, which have the axle retention bolts added to both sides, PE tie-down loops down the sides, and the light cluster that is fitted on a PE bracket next to the rear suspension mount. A choice of external framework to the sides with or without the extension slats is glued to the sides, including small PE brackets at both ends of the slatted sections. The wheels are built from two parts, the larger having the outer hub, tyre carcass and the tread moulded as one, the smaller having the opposite sidewall details moulded-in. They are then put to one side while you build up the rest of the load area. The two sides are mated with the floor part, adding brake actuators underneath and on the side, and bringing in the ends to create the load box, with more PE brackets and foot stirrups to aid entry. While the chassis is upside down, the two-part inner hubs are fitted to the ends of the axles, adding a short length of 0.5mm wire to each one, and another length to a bracket under the floor. The towing frame is made from two converging lengths, which are fixed under the front of the floor on a pair of U-bolts, while a pair of mudguards are mounted on the chassis sides on pegs, inserting the wheels into their wells. The load bed is populated by a large generator that fills most of the area with a storage box at the front, which is first to be mad, including a PE padlock for security. Four jerry cans with PE straps are made with spare fuel to power the generator, starting work on the rear face where the control panel is located, which can be posed open or closed. The open option involves two PE door sections, the largest of which is the door that pivots up and slides into the housing with a styrene handle that is also found on the styrene closed door. Seven PE wingnuts are inserted between dividers for power connectors, which will still be visible when the main door is closed, exposing the wingnuts. This is fitted as one end of the generator’s cowling, adding another to the other end, and gluing PE handles between the columns of louvres on the sides, plus a pair of styrene tie-down loops. The opposite end has a radiator core mounted in the centre, and the top cowling has curved edges, and four more PE grab handles, a lifting eye, and a filler cap on the rolled edge. The tailgate is completed by adding the PE retaining pins on chains at floor level, then the two-part towing eye is mounted atop the front of the A-frame, and a jockey-wheel is built from two halves plus a yoke and pivot, with an alternate all-steel wheel if you prefer. This can be fitted under the hitch in either horizontal position for travel, or vertically for a parked trailer, locking it in place between two halves of the pivot. Another longer length of wire is fitted under the left chassis rail and hitch frame, dangling the end down over the hitch, adding a plug for the electronics, which has a hole moulded-in for the wire. The safety chains are cut to length, and are each trapped between two halves of their bracket, adding the hook on the loose end after drilling a hole in the part first. For protection of the equipment in bad weather, a tarpaulin cover can be made from five sides, adding PE clasps to the opening end, straps to the front, and short lengths of wire to represent the bungees that hold the tarp down around the lower edges. If you elect not to cover the generator with a tilt, the stowage box, generator and four jerry cans are installed on the floor, strapping a spare tyre under the chassis on a PE frame, which is held in place by a small hook at the rear. A third choice involves a slatted extension to the trailer’s sides, adding PE brackets to the sides earlier in the build, and fitting front and rear slatted sections to the front and rear, topping off the vertical sections with curved supports for the tilt when fitted. Markings There are five decal options on the sheet wearing green, including 1one in British service that has black camouflage over the top. From the box you can build one of the following: British Forces Radio Station, 8th Army Sector, Italy, October 1944 1st Armoured Division, 829th Signal Battalion, North Africa, Spring 1943 102nd Infantry Division, ETO, Autumn 1944 US Marine Corps, 4th Marine Division, Pacific 1944-5 Corps Signals Unit, 2nd Polish Corps, Italy 1944-5 Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion This is an interesting variant of the G506 chassis doing the job that many of this type were built for, and with the addition of the trailer it looks substantially different from its siblings, which with the detail that MiniArt pack into all their kits, it’s a very tempting offering. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  11. This is Miniart's new 1/72 StuG III. Very nicely-done kit for their first foray into small-scale armour. One of the best 1/72 scale kits I've ever seen.
  12. Fruit Delivery Van Typ 170V Lieferwagen (38044) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The Mercedes 170 was based upon their W15 chassis, which was their first with all-round independent suspension, and was available as a bare chassis for coachbuilders, as a saloon, cabriolet or as a light van, debuting in the early 30s with sales affected by the worldwide depression that started in Wall Street in 1930. Sales picked up after the recession eased, and later versions had internal boot/trunk-space and sleeker lines, moving with the times. As well as sharing a chassis with the saloon, the van was essentially identical in the forward section and inside the crew cab. The bodywork from the doors backward were designed with the same ethos but differed due to the practical but boxy load area behind the drivers. These vehicles were often used for years after their original purchase passing through the ownership of several owners, especially after the war years where funds were sometimes short following the devastation in Europe. The Kit This is a reboxing of a partial re-tool of the original 2012 saloon and subsequent Beer Delivery vehicle (reviewed earlier), with the same new sprues and parts added to create the necessary changes for the wagon. The original kit is highly detailed, and this one is no different, showing just how far MiniArt have come in their design and moulding technology. There is superb detail throughout, with slender racks, realistic-looking fabric door pockets as well as a full engine and interior to the cab. Inside the shrink-wrapped box are eighteen sprues of grey styrene, one in clear, a decal sheet and a small fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass for finer details, protected in a card envelope. Construction begins with the 1700cc engine and transmission, which is made up from a substantial number of parts that just need a little wiring to do it full justice, and in fact the brake hoses are shown in diagrams to ensure that you obtain the correct bends, but you’ll need to find your own 0.2mm wire to begin with. The X-shaped chassis is prepped with a few mounts and a PE brackets, then the rear axle, differential and driveshafts are fitted on a pair of very realistic styrene springs that have hollow centres and individual coils thanks to some clever sliding moulds. Drum brakes, straps and brackets finish off the rear axle assembly, then the completed engine and drive-shaft are installed in the front to be joined by a pair of full-width leaf-springs from above and below with a stub-axle and drum brake at each end. The exhaust is made up with an impressively neatly designed four-part muffler, a pair of PE mounts, straight exit pipe and a curved length leading forward to the engine. With the addition of the bumper-irons at the front, the lower body can be fixed to the chassis after drilling a single hole in one of the front wings. The front firewall is next to be made up, and the pedal box is installed one side, with a set of tools and another neatly designed cylinder, this time the fuel tank, which is curiously situated in the rear of the engine bay. This fits over the transmission tunnel that is moulded into the floor, with more driver controls such as the gear lever, hand brake and steering column with PE horn-ring added at this time. The dashboard is integrated into the windscreen frame after being fitted with decals within the instrument housings, then covered over with clear faces for realism. There is also a nicely clear curved windscreen inserted before this is dropped over the firewall, joined by a rear cab panel that has a small rear window and the back of the bench seat applied before fitting. The base of the bench seat is also fitted on a riser moulded into the floor. Vehicles need wheels, and this one runs on four with a spare one lurking under a false floor in the back. Each wheel is made up from a layer-cake of three central sections to create the tread around the circumference, and two outer faces that depict the sidewalls of the tyres, with maker’s mark and data panel moulded into the sides. The hubs are inserted into the centres of the tyres, with a cap finishing off the assemblies. They are built up in handed pairs, and the spare has a different hub and no cap to differentiate it. The flat floor for the load area is a single piece with the pocket for the spare tyre to fit inside, and this sits over the rear arches and is supported at the front by a lip on the rear of the cab. The load area is then finished by adding the slab-sides and roof to the body, with a few ejector-pin marks that will need filling if you plan on leaving the door open. Speaking of doors, there are two options for open and closed, with moulded-in hinges and separate door handle, plus the number-plate holder above the door in the centre. The front doors are handed of course, and have separate door cards with handle and window winders added, and a piece of clear styrene playing the part of the window, which is first fitted to the door card before it is added to the door skin. Both doors can be posed open or closed as you wish, and are of the rearward opening "suicide door" type. At this stage the front of the van needs finishing, a job that begins with the radiator with a PE grille and three-pointed star added to a surround, then the radiator core and rear slam-panel with filler cap at the rear. This is put in place at the front of the body at an angle, with two cross-braces reducing body flex along with a central rod that forms the hinge-point for the side folding hood. Small PE fittings are fixed first on the louvered side panels, then added to the top parts in either the open or closed position. A pair of PE and styrene windscreen wipers are added to the windscreen sweeping from the top, a pair of clear-lensed headlamps, wing mirrors and indicator stalks on the A-pillars finish off the build of the van. To differentiate this from the previous kit, MiniArt have included an optional PE roof rack that is folded up and fitted to the exterior drip-rails around the roof, and seven small sprues full of fruit of various kinds and 12 double-height wooden boxes that can be used to depict cargo inside or on the rack if you use it. Markings Get your shades out for two of the three decal options. These were commercial vehicles during peacetime, so they were designed to attract attention. There are three options depicted in the instructions, with plenty of decals devoted to the branding on the sides. From the box you can build one of the following: Provinz Schlesien, Early 1940s Berlin, Early 1940s Colour based upon 50s Poster, registration from American occupation zone Decals are by DecoGraph, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. You can now see an excellent build of this very kit here, thanks to @Viking. Conclusion This is another well-detailed kit of an old Merc van, and even if you’re not a vehicle modeller it would make for great background fodder for a diorama, possibly of post-war Allied or Soviet armour making its way through town. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  13. D8511 Tractor Mod.1936 German Industrial Tractor (24005) 1:24 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Tractors were a boon to farmers when they were introduced after the reliability of the motor car was proven, as they were especially useful for lugging heavy equipment around the farm, as well as the typical ploughing, sowing, reaping and transporting of crops. They also had power take-off points that could be used to drive other stationary machinery, further expanding their usefulness to that of a portable power-plant. Lanz were the leading maker of farm machinery in Germany, and their Bulldog range were the “hoover” of the tractor world in their country for many years. They were good quality and reliable, which led to them being copied by several countries, and as the initial 1921 model was improved the model number was increased until well into the 9,000s. One of the primary selling points of the vehicle was the simple “hot-bulb” single-cylinder engine that could be run on a variety of fuels and had very few moving parts, which made it easy to repair and maintain. They started off as 6L and grew to 10L engines, and their slow turnover high-torque output suited the tractor’s work very well. In 1956 they were sold to John Deere, and the name slowly fell out of use. There are still many working examples to be seen at county fairs and historic events, kept in splendid working condition by their loving (some may say obsessed) owners. The Kit This is new edition of MiniArt’s D8500 range of kits but in the larger de facto vehicle scale of 1:24, and you can still expect more to come if their 1:35 release schedule of this series is repeated, which seems to be happening. The kit arrives in a standard top-opening box, and inside are eight sprues of various sizes in grey styrene, a clear sprue, a small decal sheet and the instruction booklet that has colour profiles of the decal options on the rear pages. Construction begins with the large cast metal chassis that is made up from two halves each end around a cylindrical centre-plate, with lots of parts used to create its distinctive shape. The superstructure above the chassis where the engine and ancillaries are found is roughly rectangular, having various filler caps on the top, radiator panels and louvres on the sides, plus a Lanz Bulldog name-plate on the front. The driver’s foot pedals are long curved linkages to the underside of the chassis, and with these in place the driver’s tread-plated floor is installed and a big handbrake is fitted to the deck, plus a stowage box under the rear left lip. The large cylindrical assembly in the centre of the chassis is filled with the clutch and drive-shaft on one side, and on the floor plate the driver’s seat is mounted on a sturdy spring, a couple of hand controls are inserted into depressions in the deck in front, then the large drive housing is mounted on the left side of the chassis, with a bell-housing and fly-wheel on the opposite side over the clutch, and two large fenders/sidewalls over where the rear wheels will be that have additional nuts applied, plus a sturdy bumper-bar at the rear on diagonal cross-braces. The rear hubs have two additional layers inside for the drum brakes, ready to receive the large back wheels. The front axle has the hubs fitted on pivots, adding the steering arms, anti-roll bars and the linkage to the column, which is installed on the front underframe on a single pivot in preparation for the tyres. The wheels on this tractor have heavy tread to plough through mud, which are built up by layering four parts together to make a twin tyre-sandwich at the rear, and a two-part layer for the smaller front wheels, all with crisp and chunky tread on the rolling surfaces. The tyres have their hub fronts moulded-in, while the rears have an additional rear hub spacer ring added between the wheels and rear axles before both are installed on the axles. Two large exhausts are made up from various odd-shaped parts attaching to the left side of the chassis either side of the bell-housing, with a pair of clear-lensed headlamps on an oversized cross-member on the topside. You have a choice of installing the steering wheel on the column in the cab with a cover over the power take-off point, or cut the column tip away in the cab, gluing the steering wheel on a rod that inserts into the centre of the take-off, with the cover flipped down for access. I understand this was for manually starting the engine, but don’t quote me on that. Markings There are three decal options on the sheet, and the suggested paint schemes vary from garish yellow via green to a dull grey, with plenty of options for weathering. From the box you can build one of the following: Deutsche Reichbahn, Germany, 1939-45 Interessen-Gemeinschaft Farbenindustrie AG, Germany 1939-45 Reichsarbeitsdienst (RAD), Germany, 1939-45 Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion Another variation on a tractor that was once ubiquitous in and around German farms, and this early variant takes it back to basics without sacrificing detail. These kits are also great to show off your weathering skills, or test them out, and if you're a car modeller, they'll be in scale with the rest of your cabinet. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  14. German Tank Riders – Ardennes 1944 (35411) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Getting a lift on a tank was a treat for the foot-soldier that occasionally turned sour if their lift came under fire from an enemy tank, especially if the turret starts to rotate and the crew begins using the main gun. Sometimes they’d ride into battle on the back of a tank, using the turret as temporary cover until it came time to dismount, usually off the rear avoiding the exhausts, other times it was a case of sitting somewhere flat on the hull of the tank for a well-earned rest, and saving some boot-tread whilst still getting from A to Battle. During winter periods, especially in the freezing cold of the Ardennes during the Battle of the Bulge, a seat on the warm engine deck would be prime real-estate, helping to defend against the biting cold that required heavy uniforms and great-coats, of which the Nazi invaders were woefully short. The Set This set arrives in a figure-sized box with a painting of the four figures that are depicted on the front, and annotated portions of the painting with part numbers and colour call-outs added to facilitate construction and painting of the figures. Inside the box are seven sprues in grey styrene, the sprues having wisps of flash here and there, although very little encroaches on the parts themselves. The parts for each figure are found in separate sprues for ease of identification, and parts breakdown is sensibly placed along clothing seams or natural breaks to minimise clean-up of the figures once they are built up. The sculpting is typically excellent, as we’ve come to expect from MiniArt’s artists and tool-makers, with natural poses, drape of clothing and textures appropriate to the parts of the model. There are three sprues that are devoted completely to a substantial quantity of accessories that include Small Arms, Stahlhem helmets, pistols in and out of holsters, ammo pouches, bags, satchels and map cases, water bottles, ribbed cylindrical gas mask canisters, entrenching tools, and bayonets in and out of scabbards. The weapons range from MP40s, Karabiner Kar 98k rifles, Walther P38, and an MG42 with various magazine options, open or closed bipods, and a length of link that can be carefully heat-formed to shape. The colour call-outs on the rear of the box are given in Vallejo, Mr.Color, AK RealColor, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya, plus swatches and colour names to assist with choosing your colours. These refer to the blue colour numbers on the paintings above the chart. Conclusion Another realistic set of figures for your late war German AFV projects, with so many accessories you’ll be spoilt for choice. Detail and sculpting is first rate, and what we’ve come to expect from MiniArt. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  15. Miniart sent me this kit to do a build review and even though this kit is their first foray into small scale armour, it is a knockout. Detail is crazy good and the kit looks better than some 1/35 StuGs I've built. Hoping I can do it justice. I decided (boldly or foolishly?) to try squiggly camo with an airbrush for the first time. Mind you, this kit is only about 2.5" long, so it was a bit stressful! I almost chickened out and went with an overall dunkelgelb finish...
  16. Street Workers (38081) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd This set depicts a trio of street workers, not to be confused with a similar group of people, often referred to as the oldest profession. These are people whose work is done on the street, and it includes a street-sweeper, a newspaper seller, and a lamp-lighter, from the days when street lamps were gas-powered, a power source that lingered longer into the 20th century around Europe than you’d possibly think. Inside the figure-sized box are five sprues in grey styrene, the longest of which is nipped into two parts at the factory to allow it to fit inside the box, plus a pair of clear sprues, with a glossy sheet of instructions for the accessories that are included with the set. The parts for each figure are found on separate sprues for ease of identification, and parts breakdown is sensibly placed along clothing seams or natural breaks to minimise clean-up of the figures once they are built up. The sculpting is typically excellent, as we’ve come to expect from MiniArt’s artists and tool-makers, with natural poses, drape of clothing and textures appropriate to the parts of the model. The street-sweeper is holding a long-handled Besom broom with a traditional bundled stick head, akin to a witches’ broom, made from two parts. For a good join, a small hole could be drilled in the head of the broom to accept the shaft, cutting it to the desired length. The lamp-lighter has one leg either side of the ladder (not health & safety approved), and has his arms above his head opening or closing the lamp head, while the paper seller is wearing a bibbed skirt and jacket, with her hair flowing over her shoulders in a 30-40s style, and a three-part stack of papers in her arms. The accessory sprues provide parts to create a step ladder for the lamp-lighter to reach the street lamp, which is also included. The ladder is made from the two sides plus a top step, while the lamp is built from a two-part bottom section and a fluted upper with perpendicular cross-rail ‘lollipops’ across the top that were commonly used by lamp-lighters if they were using a straight ladder. The lamp itself is made from two faceted clear parts for the glazing, and a styrene top-cap with ferrule on top, fitting a clear bulb to a hexagonal base that is linked to the post by a four-legged bracket underneath. There are more parts on the sprue, including an ornate suspension bracket for a lamp or a large clock, the parts for the latter also found on the long sprue. There are no clock-face decals as it’s not an official part of the set, but you could try printing your own if you have the skills. Conclusion Another realistic, life-like figure set with plenty of accessories from MiniArt that will be perfect for a diorama setting. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  17. ’Battle of the Bulge’ Ardennes 1944 (35373) 1:35 Miniart via Creative Models Ltd The Battle of the Bulge was the nickname given to the last-ditch attempt by Hitler, sometimes referred to as the Allies’ best General, to stop the Allied advance toward Germany by driving a wedge through the front and separating the four armies, removing Antwerp from Allied hands, and forcing them to sue for peace. This was clearly what is now known as a ‘hail Mary’ play, and relied heavily on capturing Allied fuel supplies, because the Germans were woefully short of their own stores, and would soon run out if they didn’t capture substantial new supplies. It also relied on bad weather keeping the Allied air elements grounded for the crucial period of the operation, as the Luftwaffe was a spent force by this time of the war, and any daylight activity quickly attracted US and British fighters equipped with cannons and bombs, largely unopposed by the Luftwaffe. The operation began on the 16th December 1944 when the weather was bitterly cold, heavy snow and overcast conditions, and Nazi progress was initially good, capturing many Allied units off-guard, resulting in substantial casualties and a large quantity prisoners. Apart from one hideous incident at Malmedy where Kampfgruppe Peiper massacred dozens of US prisoners, the majority captured were thankfully treated humanely by their captors. After the initial advances, the German’s progress stagnated, and they began to run out of fuel, which in concert with the improvement in the weather, permitted the Allied aircraft to take on the vulnerable German armoured columns and support lines, with the Allies back to their original positions by February of 1945, and the Germans in disarray. The Figures This set contains five figures, two German soldiers walking alongside three US prisoners, who are unsurprisingly not looking happy about their plight. The kit arrives in a figure-sized box, and inside are five sprues of grey styrene, plus a small glossy piece of paper with a sprue diagram for the figure sprues. All the figures are in a walking pose, one German nursing a set of binoculars against his chest, while the other holds his rifle across his smocked chest, relaxed but alert. The three Americans are wearing various battle-dress combinations, two wearing blouson jackets with their hands up, while the man in the greatcoat has his hands mid-chest, probably too cold to wave his hands in the air. The American with his hands clasped behind his head isn’t wearing a helmet, and his hair is clearly non-regulation, so he had probably been on the front for a while. The parts for each figure are found in separate areas of the sprues that are separated by country for ease of identification, and parts breakdown is sensibly placed along clothing seams or natural breaks to minimise clean-up of the figures once they are built up. The sculpting is typically excellent, as we’ve come to expect from MiniArt’s artists and tool-makers, with natural poses, drape of clothing and textures appropriate to the parts of the model. The three accessory sprues include helmets, some of the US M1s either covered with netting or cloth cover, and two of the German helmets also have cloth covers. The rest of the equipment includes the usual personal pouches, bags and small arms, although the Americans won’t be using any of those and their webbing will have been confiscated at time of capture, however the Germans will have a full complement appropriate to their unit and task. The rear of the box has the artwork separated with blue colour arrows, while the kit parts are in black text, with the officer having a choice of cap or helmet. A small photo insert shows the equipment on the back of the smock wearing soldier, as those items can’t be seen in the painting. A small swatch of the smock’s camouflage is given on the back of the box, with the colour chart in the bottom right corner, giving paint codes for Vallejo, Mr.Color, AK Real Color, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya, as well as small colour swatches and names to assist you with choosing your paints. Conclusion A great figure set that would look good in a diorama, their chaperones pushing the prisoners back through the front lines while the panzers and other forces are heading forward to press the attack. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  18. Hello folks, I have just completed my build of an M3 Lee tank, early production, 2nd Armoured Division, US Army 1942. The kit is from Miniart and is an interior build with a load of details as you will see in the coming photo's. There are quite a lot of photo's coming up, but this is an interior build and there are a lot of details to show... Here's a quick tour around the tank..... With interior builds, I always like to show off as much interior as possible, so I have constructed the model so that the engine and top hull panels are removable.... Here are a selection of photo's showing the interior details... A photo showing the turret cage with the turret and cupola on either side... A few photo's with the tank on a very simple base with a pair of Alpine figures... That's it, a brilliant kit to make, a model very highly recommended, hope you like it... Here's a link to the WIP https://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/235130113-m3-lee-early-production-miniart-35206-interior-kit-finished/#comments all the best Ed
  19. Refugees Musician Family (38084) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd During WWII there were millions of displaced populations created by the advances of the Nazis across Europe, escaping from combat or persecution, resulting in huge streams of humanity making their way to a perceived safer part of their own or a neighbouring country. People took only what they could carry, unless they were lucky enough to possess a motor car or some kind of cart, whether hand-pulled or horse-drawn. People would take their most important belongings, loading up with their most valuable goods, whether monetarily or otherwise, often comprising items that might be of use in their profession or as currency to trade when they arrived at their destination. The Kit This figure set supplies two figures, plus their possessions that they are carrying and pushing in a pram, although they don’t appear to have a baby with them, so perhaps they picked it up earlier in their journey or they had one in storage at home. The set arrives in an end-opening figure-sized box, and inside are six sprues in grey styrene, plus a sheet of paper that has several pieces of art printed on it to use with the picture frames that are included on the sprues. The parts for each figure are found in separate sprues for ease of identification, and parts breakdown is sensibly placed along clothing seams or natural breaks to minimise clean-up of the figures once they are built up. The sculpting is typically excellent, as we’ve come to expect from MiniArt’s artists and tool-makers, with natural poses, drape of clothing and textures appropriate to the parts of the model. The accessories are contained on four sprues, two of which are quite large, and contain several instruments that can be carried by the figures in line with the theme of this boxing. Instructions for the perambulator are found on the back of the box along with the painting guide for the figures, with additional diagrams showing the building of the three cases that are also found on the sprues. The instruments sprue includes the following: Accordion – open (Piano Accordion) Accordion – in case (Piano Accordion) Harmonic – closed (Button Accordion) Harmonic – open (Button Accordion) Marching bass drum with sticks Trumpet Guitar Violin in open case Violin & bow with closed case Mandolin Banjo There are no instructions included for the instruments, which would have been useful, but it wasn’t a stretch to guess that this sprue had been seen before, even with my memory, and it turns out we have reviewed the set when it was first released separately in 2020, which you can find here along with the instructions, just in case you pick this set up and can’t quite figure out how to put some parts together. The smallest sprue has three picture frames moulded into it, with six paintings supplied on the accompanying piece of glossy colour-printed paper, including some very famous paintings that are most likely reproductions, given their provenance. You simply cut them from the backing paper and fix them in place on the narrow rim around the inside of the frame in much the same manner as a real picture frame. If you want to add glass to the frame, some acetate sheet would be much easier to cut to shape than trying to adjust the size and shape of a glass slide cover that is often used to depict broken glass in dioramas. Conclusion The figures are expertly sculpted, and they have a care-worn look to them that would be typical of anyone that has been displaced by war, indicating their profession by their luggage, and adding the possibility of a bereavement in the near past by the presence of the pram. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  20. Bakery Products (35624) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Inside the figure-sized box are nine sprues in grey styrene, six filled with different varieties of bread and pastries, plus three containing shallow wooden boxes with open tops and hand-holds in the short ends. The rear of the box holds the instructions for making up the trays from their three component parts, with painting examples given in the space below, which is various shades of beige and tan, with a bit of flour dusting here and there. The colour call-outs on the rear of the box are given in Vallejo, Mr.Color, AK RealColor, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya, plus swatches and colour names to assist with choosing your colours. These refer to the blue colour numbers on the paintings above the chart. As usual with MiniArt figure and diorama sets, sculpting is exceptional with crisp detail and sensible parts breakdown on the trays to leave minimal seamlines, and the sprue attachment points of the various bread products are similarly carefully placed. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  21. P-47D-25RE Thunderbolt Advanced Kit (48001) 1:48 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The Thunderbolt developed from a series of less-than-successful earlier designs that saw Seversky aviation change to Republic, and the project designation from P-35, to P-43 and P-44, each with its own aggressive sounding name. After a realisation that their work so far wasn't going to cut it in the skies over war-torn Europe, they went back to the drawing board and produced the P-47A that was larger, heavier and sported the new Pratt & Whitney R-2800 18-cylinder radial that would also power the B-26 Marauder, P-61 Black Widow and F4U Corsair. With it they added eight .50cal Browning machine guns aligned along the axis of flight in the wing leading edge. The P-47A was still a small aircraft, and was initially ordered without military equipment to allow faster completion, but it was considered inferior to the competition then available, so an extensive re-design was ordered that resulted in the much larger P-47B, firing up to 100 rounds per second from the eight .50cal wing guns, and with a maximum speed of over 400mph, leaving just the fuel load slightly short of requirements. It first flew mid-1941, and despite being a heavy-weight, its performance was still excellent, and the crash of the prototype didn’t affect the order for over 700 airframes, which were fitted with a more powerful version of the R-2800 and a sliding canopy that made ingress and egress more streamlined, particularly when bailing out of a doomed aircraft. Minor re-designs to early production airframes resulted in a change to the P-47C, which meant that fewer than 200 Bs were made, the C benefitting from improved radio, oxygen systems, and a metal rudder to prevent flutter that had been affecting control at certain points in the performance envelope. A quick way to spot a B is the forward raked aerial mast behind the cockpit, as this was changed to vertical on the C and beyond. The production from a new factory that had been opened to keep up with demand led to the use of the D suffix, although they were initially identical to the C, but the cowling flaps were amended later, making it easier to differentiate. Of course, the later bubble-canopy P-47s were far easier to tell apart from earlier marks, and constant improvement in reliability, performance and fuel load was added along the way. The P-47D-25 carried more fuel for extended range, including piping for jettisonable tanks on the bomb racks for even more fuel. Taking a cue from the British designers, the bubble-top was developed and that improved all-round visibility markedly, although like the bubble-top Spitfires, later models incorporated a fin extension to counter the yaw issues that resulted. Its weight, firepower and seemingly unstoppable character led to the nickname ‘Juggernaut’, which was inevitably shortened to ‘Jug’ and led to many, many off-colour jokes during and after the war. Jokes that are still soldiering on to this day, despite being eligible for a pensioner’s bus pass. The Jug was used extensively in the European theatre as an escort fighter, where it performed well in its ideal high-altitude environment. Later in the war when the Luftwaffe was a spent force, it also went on to become a highly successful ground attack fighter, strafing and bombing targets of opportunity, and eschewing camouflaged paintwork to add some extra speed with a smooth (and shiny) bare metal finish. As well as flying with the US forces, many P-47s were flown by the other Allies, including the British, Russians, and after the war many other countries as the remainder were sold off as war surplus. The Kit This is a reboxing of a brand-new tooling from MiniArt, and is branded an Advanced Kit because it includes an additional sprue of plastic parts, and a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass to increase the level of detail of the kit, including the gun bays, and the ability to open the engine cowlings to display the excellent detail that is hidden away on the Basic Kit. The kit arrives in one of MiniArt’s sturdy top-opening boxes with a dramatic painting of the subject on the front, and profiles of the decal options on one side, reserving the other side for practical details and text. Inside the box are twenty-two sprues in grey styrene, although in our sample many of the sprues were handily still connected by their runners, which simplified photography. There is also a clear sprue, a sheet of PE in a cardboard envelope, two sheets of decals, and the instruction booklet, which is printed on glossy paper in colour, with profiles for the decal options on the front pages, plus detailed painting and decaling information for the weapons and tanks on the back page. Detail is beyond excellent, as we’ve come to expect from MiniArt in the last several years, with fine engraved panel lines, recessed rivets, plus raised and recessed features where appropriate, as well as fine detail in the cockpit, wheel bays, plus gun bays in the wings and engine. If you’ve seen their AFV kits you’ll know what to expect, but this is special in this reviewer’s humble opinion. New Sprue & Photo-Etch Construction begins with the highly detailed cockpit, starting with a choice of seat style. One option has the seat put together from base, back and two side parts, which have elements of the seatbelts moulded-in, and are finished off by putting the remainder of the lap belts on the seat pan. The other option uses new parts to build the seat without belts, adding the belts from the PE sheet separately. A pair of support are inserted into recesses in the back of the seat, then it is installed on the ribbed floor, which has control column, plus seat-adjuster, and two other levers inserted, after which the rear bulkhead, one of the cockpit sidewalls and the front bulkhead are fitted, trapping the rudder bar with moulded-in pedals between them. The starboard sidewall has an oxygen hose added, and a scrap diagram shows the detail painting as well as the location of the decals that need to be applied. The head cushion is applied to the head armour, then the other sidewall is detailed with four controls and a PE wiring loom, numerous decals and more detail painting, so that it can be inserted along with the instrument panel and auxiliary panel, both of which have decals for the dials, with a choice of two for the main panel. The tail wheel is made up in preparation for closing the fuselage, building a four-part strut that holds the wheel on a one-sided yoke, then adding a small curved bulkhead with sprung bumper at the front. The fuselage halves are further prepared by adding two extra detail parts to the short sill panels that have ribbing moulded-in, and should be painted to match the cockpit. At the rear on the underside, the supercharger fairing is slotted into the starboard fuselage along with the tail gear bay, and at the front, a cooling vent and an insert are added to the underside, fitting another vent to the port fuselage half in the same place. The fuselage can then be closed around the cockpit, adding the aerial mast into a slot in the starboard spine, although whether that will remain there until the end of the building and painting is a moot point, and I’d be tempted to nip it off at the base, gluing the base in to act as a socket for the aerial after the heavy work is over. The engine is created by joining the two highly-detailed banks of pistons together by a keyed peg, adding the push-rod assembly to the front, the ends of which mate with a circular support that is the frame onto which the cowling panels are added later. The reduction-housing bell is detailed with magnetos and other parts, plus a collet at the centre where the prop-shaft would be. This is joined to the front of the engine as it is mounted to a bulkhead at the rear, again on a keyed ring. The convex firewall at the front of the fuselage is detailed with a ring of fasteners, the cylindrical intakes with PE mesh grilles, or you can utilise the similar less detailed part from the Basic Kit if you plan on leaving the engine covered. There is a fuselage insert in front of the cockpit, and that has the two-part gunsight with clear lens and PE backup sight and link-plate added to the middle, and it is inserted under the coaming and joined by your choice of firewall that closes the front of the fuselage. The intake trunking at the bottom of the nose cowling is made from five parts and installed in the lower panel, and you have a choice of open or closed top cowling panels by using additional parts. To leave the cowling open, the engine is fitted to the detailed firewall along with the lower cowling and the three sections of cooling gills. the closed option is surrounded by all four cowling segments, and at the rear you have a choice of installing open or closed cooling gills, using different parts to achieve the look you want, sliding the assembly over the completed engine, to which you can add the wiring loom if you are feeling adventurous, using the helpful diagrams near the back of the booklet, which also includes diagrams for wiring the gear bays. The rudder is completed by adding an insert at its widest point (the bottom) to avoid sink marks, and it is mated to the fin on three hinges, allowing deflection if you wish. Under the tail, your choice of bare or canvas-covered wheel assembly is inserted in the bay, with doors on each side, or if you are building your model in flight, a closed pair of doors is supplied as a single part, adding a small outlet further forward under the fuselage. The upper wing halves have well-defined ribbing detail for the gear bays moulded-in, which is augmented by fitting two rib sections, front and rear walls, and an additional structure that has a retraction jack pushed through a hole in one of the wall segments. The gun bays and their extensive ammunition stores are supplied in this boxing, using different upper wing panels with the bays opened. The gun bays themselves are built from a mixture of styrene and PE surfaces, making up a four-compartment box into which the gun breeches are inserted, linking them to the outer wall with ammo feed chutes, and placing the ammunition boxes with open tops into the upper wing from within. The closed bay option is shown with just the barrel stubs projecting from the leading edge, while both options install the wingtip lights and a pitot probe in the starboard wing. A scrap diagram of the lower wing shows the location of the flashed-over holes that you can drill out for rocket tubes or pylons, then the flaps are made from two sides, plus a pair of hinges, and these are glued into the trailing edge of the wing with the ailerons, then the lower wing can be glued to the upper, along with two inserts at the tip and to the rear of the gear bay, which includes a flush landing light. Three PE bay edge strips are inserted over the open gun bays, adding a PE indicator and PE bay prop to hold the styrene panels at the correct angle, the gun bay hinging forward, the ammo bay hinging aft. The same process is then carried out in mirror-image for the other wing, omitting the pitot probe and landing light, after which the wheels and their struts are made up, each wheel made from two halves plus a choice of three hub types, and two styles of tyres are also provided, one without a flat-spot, the other under load on the ground, leaving it to your taste. The struts are detailed with separate compressed or relaxed oleo scissor-links plus stencil decals, and they are mated with their wheels, plus the captive gear bay doors, the lower door made from two layers, again to avoid sink-marks. The wings are glued to the fuselage with a stepped joint making for a stronger bond, and the elevator panels are each slotted into the tail, and have separate flying surfaces that can be posed deflected, each one a single part. If you are building your model with the gear down, the inner gear bay doors are fitted to the fuselage, which contains the inner edge of the main gear bays, so remember to paint that while you are doing the bays. If you plan on making an in-flight model, there are two single parts that depict the closed main bays, or you can insert the two struts with their wheels for the grounded aircraft. The four centreline supports are fitted between the main bays for some decal options, then the model can be flipped over to stand on its own wheels so that the canopy can be installed, gluing the windscreen at the front, and deciding whether to pose the blown canopy open or closed. The prop is also fitted, and this is made up from two parts glued perpendicular to each other, each holding two blades in opposition, and the spinner moulded into the front section. The Jug could carry quite a load, whether it was extra fuel, rockets or bombs, and all these are included in the box, starting with the two-part pylons, which can be depicted as empty by inserting a cover over the business end. You have a choice of four styles of tank, a 108gal compressed paper tank with a ribbed nose and tail, a 200gal wide and flat tank, the third 150gal streamlined tank with flat mating surface, and the last one slightly smaller at 75gal. All but the third option has a pair of sway-braces between them and the pylon, which fit into slots in the pylons. They are built in pairs to fit under the wings, but the first two options can also be used solo on the centreline support. The bombs use the same pylons, and can be built in 1,000lb, 500lb or 250lb variants, each one made from two halves for the body and two parts for the square tails or thinner PE fins if you prefer, and mated to the pylon by a pair of sway-braces that varies depending on size. There is also a smoke generator that looks like a drop-tank with a spout on the rear, which would be used to lay smoke for the Allied troops below to cover their actions, at least temporarily. The final option is a pair of three-tubed rocket pods, which are made from two halves, plus inserts front and rear, which have their mounts moulded-in, and attach directly to holes drilled earlier under the wings. A large diagram shows the correct location for all the pylons and their loads, and you are advised that drop-tanks weren’t carried under the wings with the rocket packs, which seems sensible. No-one likes to fly home with their wings blown off, after all. Markings There are three decal options on the sheet, and a page near the rear of the booklet shows the location of all the many stencils on a set of grey-scale profiles to avoid cluttering the main profiles. From the box you can build one of the following: 62nd Fighter Sqn., 56th Fighter Group, 8th Air Force, July 1944 – Pilot Capt. Frederick Joseph Christensen Jr. 61st Fighter Sqn., 56th Fighter Group, 8th Air Force, June 1944 – Pilot Lt. Col. Francis Stanley ‘Gabby’ Gabreski 82nd Fighter Sqn., 78th Fighter Group ‘The Duxford Eagles’, 8th Air Force, Duxford, September 1944 – Pilot Capt. Ben Mayo Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion There are a few other kits of this fighter on the market in this scale of course, but I have a feeling that this will soon become the de facto standard in due course as the selection widens. The detail is exceptional and better still than the alleged ‘Basic Kit’ that preceded it. VERY highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  22. Hello everyone, onto a new project, I had a look at what I have left to build and I still have four Miniart M3's to build. I did one a while back in the M3 group build which I enjoyed making, so I thought now's a good time to do another. Three of them are just normal builds but one is an interior build which I fancy doing now whilst I'm still able to do so. So the one that I have picked is the M3 Lee Early Production, here is the box art... There are eight versions to choose from, three Red Army, two German, a Canadian version and two US Army. The only versions that interest me here are the US ones, one is the 1st Armoured Division and the other is the 2nd Armoured Division US Army. Fort Benning (Georgia) early 1942. This is the version that I will be making. Here is the colour and marking scheme... To start things off I started to work on the baseplate, the parts have nice crisp detail and look fabulous, really looking forward to doing this... I really like doing their interior builds, looking at the instructions there should be plenty of opportunity for panels to be removed later on to show off all the interior details, so that's the plan... That's it for now I have quite a few parts to clean up next for the next stage so will be back soon. all the best Ed
  23. T-34/85 Mod.1945 Plant 112 (37065) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The T-34 was Stalin's mainstay medium tank that was produced in huge numbers by sometimes crude and expedient methods, to be thrown into the fray against the numerically inferior German tanks on the Eastern Front, sometimes even before the paint was fully dry. The designers combined several important advances in design such as sloped frontal armour, wide tracks to spread the ground load, and the ability to cope with the harsh Russian winters without freezing to a halt, which was a problem that affected the Germans badly after the initial successes in the summer of Operation Barbarossa. The part count and cost of the tank was continuously reduced during production, with plants turning out up to 1,300 per month at the height of WWII. The initial cramped welded turret was replaced by a cast turret with more room, and later the 76mm gun was replaced by a more powerful 85mm main gun in the T-34/85 with an enlarged three-man turret, giving even the Tiger pause for thought. The T-34/85 with the composite turret was manufactured from the summer of 1944 at Krasnoye Sormova plant #112 on the Volga River, with a simplified gun in the turret in the shape of the ZiS-S-53, as well as some other changes. The Composite turret was electrically operated, fitted with a flat roof that had a pair of hatches, one of which was the enlarged commander’s cupola, and with two mushroom vents on the roof to clear fumes from repeated firing. There were some messy welds between the various castings, which gives them a rough appearance 1that belies their capability. The Kit This is a new Interior Kit boxing from MiniArt’s recent T-34 line, so the box is loaded with sprues of all shapes and sizes. In total there are seventy-five sprues in grey styrene, two in clear, a Photo-Etch (PE) brass fret, a small decal sheet and instruction booklet with colour profiles inside each of the front and rear covers. Many of the sprues will be seen in various other boxings of the T-34, notably the other Factory 112 boxings that we have reviewed here, which is one of the reasons for their use of smaller sprues that make their kits so eminently modular. It makes the process easier and more cost-effective for them, and makes the likelihood of receiving a wide array of options to choose from more likely, which with the rate we’ve received them for review over the years seems to be the case. As always with MiniArt, the design, detail and crispness of moulding is excellent, and the inclusion of PE brass in the box is one less thing you need to fork out additional modelling funds for. Unsurprisingly, construction begins with the lower hull. The floor is decked out with four H-shaped tubular fittings for the suspension on each side and a lower escape hatch, then the engine firewall near the rear, and a pair of pressurised bottles and an axe in the lower glacis. The low-level ammunition storage boxes are made from several parts and is laid in the floor under the turret, with a transverse bar running under the forward crew. The driver’s equipment area is built, adding levers, pioneer tools and foot pedals with actuators into position, and a rack of plate-mags in a tray behind him. The seats are each made from separate pads that share identical back and arm components, fixing them into position on opposite sides of the hull, plus a drum on the left side. The lower hull walls are next, with their Christie-style suspension springs contained in channels up the inside face, drilling a pair of holes near the final drive housing to mount a pair of bump-stop pads later. Additional channels are installed on the inner faces, interspersed with tanks, the inner final drive fairing, and additional suspension detail inside the front. Another layer of detail is placed over the sides, adding ready-rounds, extinguishers and small equipment boxes, plus more ammo on a rack near the bow gunner. The lower hull components are brought together while the engine block is being built, comprehensively depicting the detail of the V12 block, cylinder heads, manifolds, ancillaries and support frame under the sump, building the radiators and fan before the cylinder and two radiator panels are inserted into the rear hull, the engine longitudinally mounted, the radiators facing out along the sides of the engine bay at an angle, linking them with lengths of hose between them and their input/output points on the engine. A bulkhead with a large circular hole in the centre is fitted to the centre of the engine bay, filling the space with the cylindrical fan unit made earlier, then adding supports to the rear end, then building the transmission in the rear compartment with twin cylindrical clutch units, one on each end, followed by linkages and the dynamo. Twin cylindrical airboxes are made from three parts each, fixing them to the inner face of the bulkhead, their shapes contoured to fit around the fan component. Two thick exhaust hoses snake from the rear to the bulkhead, linking the manifolds to the rear of the vehicle. The upper hull begins with the ball-mount and DT Machine gun for the bow, with an extending stock for the gunner’s comfort. The gun is left to swivel inside the port, so be sparing with the glue when you complete this assembly. The glacis plate accepts the gun from inside after fitting of the armoured outer protection, fixing an armoured hinge over the driver’s hatch, towing hooks on the glacis, and some combined PE/styrene lugs above them. The upper hull deck and sides are moulded as one, and the sides have several holes drilled out before they are applied to the hull, with a few nubs cut from the exterior on the way. The glacis plate it fitted to the front, then the assembly is glued to the lower hull, fitting a triangular profile tip across the front, and a row of five track links as combination spares/appliqué armour. At the rear the engine bay is still exposed, which is next to be addressed by adding a frame around the rear bulkhead then attaching a choice of three rear panel that have a circular inspection panel in the centre, drilling some holes for some variants, removing raised detail for another, with a pair of armoured exhaust covers over the short exhaust stubs, and inserting the circular hatch in the centre in open or closed position. The engine deck is covered with vents and louvres that are added with a central inspection hatch, then the completed assembly is fixed over the engine bay. Additional armoured covers with louvred grilles are fitted over the large flush louvres later, then the suspension swing-arms and stub axles are installed under the sponsons, putting the idler axles in at the front, and the small pads mentioned earlier next to the drive sprocket housing. A stowage box is made from two styrene parts with PE brackets and shackles, adding it to the right fender behind a dozen tie-down shackles, and three longer rails on the sloped side of the hull. The driver’s hatch is a complex affair, layered from two thicknesses, adding two periscopes, a bullet-splash shield, an actuator support bracket, and six locking parts, plus a pair of armoured domes over the periscopes on the outside. It can be fitted open or closed, depending on your choice of short or long ram on the hull interior, which also has PE detail. Another stowage box, four more rails, a 2-man saw, and brackets for the spare fuel drums are attached to the left fender, making up two more fuel drum supports on the right, and mounting three rows of track grousers where the tie-downs were glued earlier, stacking six together and using PE straps to hold them down. Three slim fuel drums are built from two halves with end-caps, a filler cap and two PE grab-handles on the ends, also making up two additional short examples, and a further two drums with wire grab-handles moulded-in. The mudguards with PE detail parts are glued into place at the front, with simplified flaps that have PE inner lips to the rear. Depending on which rear bulkhead you chose, different brackets and choice of drums are used, strapping them onto their carriers using PE straps, which are shown being made in a scrap diagram nearby. The longer side tanks are similarly attached, placing two on the right and one on the left of the engine deck, and adding a pair of shovels on a turn-buckle and two PE straps. Ten pairs of road wheels with smooth tyres and separate hub caps are built with two pairs of drive sprockets and idler wheels to complete the running gear. At the same time the main towing cables are made from styrene towing eyes, but you will need to supply two lengths of 100mm braided cord or wire, so make sure you have some on hand when you begin. Now for the tracks. The T-34’s wide tracks were simple and easy to produce, as well as efficiently spreading the vehicle’s weight and helping prevent freezing of the drivetrain in cold weather, of which Russia has more than its fair share. There are two different track parts, one flat, the other with a guide horn in the centre, and both have exquisite casting details that includes the ID numbers on both parts and indeed both faces. They have four sprue gates on each link, attached on the curved hinge-points, making them easy to cut back flush and then sand smooth with a sanding stick to ease assembly and gluing. I made up a short length as a test for a previous boxing, and was finished in a few minutes with a little liquid glue thanks to their close tolerances that keep them together while you glue. Each side needs 72 links, which equates to 36 of each part, and once you get into a rhythm, it won’t take too long to complete the task, wrapping the still flexible links around the curved sections and holding them in place with tape and other clamps etc. to obtain the correct sag on the top run once the glue has cured. The detail is so good it’s almost a shame to weather them once painted. The turret starts with the breech, which is built up from dozens of parts over several steps, with another 7.62mm DT machine gun that will be mounted coaxially in the mantlet, with the trunnions fully depicted inside. The turret ring is inserted into the lower turret from within, and the main storage for the bustle ready-rounds is built from five frames that are attached to two angled brackets at the rear, painted, then have the shells with their decal stripes applied after painting inserted tip first, adding locking levers to nubs on one side of the frames. This is inserted into the bustle floor with a stop-board preventing them from falling out, alongside a radio box and some spare magazines for their personal weapons, which are added next with a canister and the rotation mechanism for the turret. A small round fold-up seat is added to the ring, inserting a bracket for another seat across the interior, following which the mantlet is installed, then the breech is slipped into the rear of the mantlet and joined by the sighting gear, then the coax gun in a two-part bracket. Another seat is suspended across the remaining space on three PE straps, The roof is detailed inside with periscopes, wires, lights, vents and other details, applying armoured mushroom shrouds and a short aerial to the exterior in front of the commander’s cupola space, then it is glued to the turret sides, which are moulded as one, briefly prepared by drilling out several holes beforehand. The sidewalls have an interior skin that is first detailed with more ready shells on brackets, spare ammunition magazines, and other small details, then they are glued into position. The commander's cupola is more the complex of the two hatches, made from two rings that has five periscopes inserted in the centre, then it is glued to the roof, creating the hatch frame with a rotating periscope in the fixed forward section, and a simple hatch that can be posed open or closed, adding two small parts inside once it is in position. The Gunner/Loader’s hatch is a simple circular panel with a hinge on one edge, and this too can be posed open or closed as you wish. There are addition details added to the hinge from within, differing in layout between open and closed. The turret halves are then joined, adding tie-downs, a DIY canvas roll that is attached with three PE straps, or if you don’t feel the urge to make a canvas, just leave the straps dangling, or put something else in the straps instead. There is a rectangular cover added over the portion of the breech still visible at the front of the turret, then the slide-moulded gun tube is slotted in, with the mantlet cover slid over the barrel. Rails and a few small parts are fixed to the turret sides, then the completed turret can be lowered into the turret ring in the hull, remembering that this kit doesn’t have toy-like bayonet lugs to hold the turret in place, so you must remember this whenever handling your model after completion. Markings There are seven decal options in the box and they’re all shades of green, which is what you’d expect from a Soviet era-example made in '45 and used after the war. From the box you can build one of the following: 16th Armoured Brigade, Korean People’s Army, 1950 16th Armoured Brigade, Korean People’s Army, 1950 Polish People’s Army, 1950 Polish People’s Army, 1950s National People’s Army of DDR, Early 1960s Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces, Early 1960s Operation ‘Whirlwind’ Soviet Army, Hungry, Budapest, Autumn 1956 Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt/gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion The T-34 played a huge part in Soviet military operations both during WWII and after, finding its way into the arsenals of many Soviet-friendly nations following the war, especially once it had fallen out of frontline use in Soviet forces, at which point it became a bargain basement tank for their neighbours and affiliates. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  24. Calvados Sellers (38071) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Calvados is a French apple Brandy that dates as far back as the 8th century, although it is also made in other countries such as the UK as Cider Brandy. Up until after WWII the produce was typically sold by men carrying round crates of bottles full of Calvados, often on wheeled carts before the motorcar took over as a primary mode of transport. This set depicts a duo of Calvados sellers in traditional garb, pulling a cart laden with crates full of bottles. The set arrives in an end-opening figure-sized box, and inside are seven sprues in grey styrene, two in translucent green and two more in translucent brown. If you’ve already got some of MiniArt’s sets, you might recognise the crate and the bottle sprues from other sets, but the figures are all new. Both men are standing, one in overalls and a cap, carrying a crate across his front, and the other is pulling his cart from behind, wearing an apron with a jacket over the top and a cap like his colleague. The parts for each figure are found on separate sprues for ease of identification, and parts breakdown is sensibly placed along clothing seams or natural breaks to minimise clean-up of the figures once they are built up. The sculpting is typically excellent, as we’ve come to expect from MiniArt’s artists and tool-makers, with natural poses, drape of clothing and textures appropriate to the parts of the model. The accessories include parts for four crates, all parts with a wooden texture moulded-in, and with internal divides to store the bottles, which are provided on another four translucent sprues, attached to the parts via the bases for minimal clean-up. Construction of these and the cart are covered on the rear of the box, the cart having a planked wooden bed, sprung axles with cart wheels, and two supports to the front that keep the cart level when it is stationary. A fine wooden grain is also moulded into the appropriate areas of the cart to add realism and aid you with painting the model. The paintings on the rear of the box give combined codes for the parts on the sprues, plus the colour codes in blue boxes that correspond to the table near the bottom of the box rear. Conclusion More super figures from MiniArt with dynamic poses, clothing and appropriate accessories that give them their raison d’être. Perfect for your next diorama. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  25. Butchers (38073) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models This set includes a pair of butchers at work in their profession, dressed typically in clothing that was seen before the modern age, when safety and hygiene are more to the fore, and rightly so. Inside the open-ended figure-sized box are four sprues, two containing the figures and two their equipment, various cuts of meat and a trolley. A combined painting and parts diagram is shown on the rear of the box, the part numbers in black alpha-numerical codes, and the paint in numbers in small blue boxes that correspond to a table near the bottom of the box, which gives suggested colour codes in Vallejo, Mr.Color, AK RealColor, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya, plus colour swatches and generic names to help you with choosing your paint. One butcher is standing with his feet planted wide and arms folded, hiding his bulk under a leather apron that has a cleaver hanging from a loop, with a small peaked cap on his head, and a broad handlebar moustache covering his top lip. The other man is wearing an apron under a body-warmer, and has a side of meat resting across his shoulders and held with both gloved hands, protecting his neck with a short towel. As usual with MiniArt figures their sculpting is exceptional with crisp detail and sensible parts breakdown plus a sprue of meat to add some detail to their vicinity if you use them in a diorama. There are two half sides of meat in addition to the one being toted, a couple of chickens or turkeys, a hog’s head, a leg of meat, and various sausages in links, rolls or as singles. The last item is a trolley that is shown made up on the rear of the box, adding two wheels on an axle to the ladder chassis, a pair of rear supports, and a stop-end on the lower. Conclusion Fantastically detailed figures and accessories that are just right for a diorama or vignette, either posed in the doorway of their shop, or behind the counter of a street market. You also get the world's happiest decapitated pig, assuring you that no animals were harmed during the making of this set. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
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