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KRK4m

British infantry tanks in 1/72

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In contrast to the plethora of German and Soviet WW2 AFVs the British tanks are not so well represented among the 1/72 kits. Trying to build a Valentine Mk VI (small turret) there's only ancient ESCI (recently labelled as Italeri) Mk II or a "wargame" extremely simple Armourfast kit of the same variant. Which one do you consider worth bothering with?

Another important British infantry tank is a Churchill. And here again we have to choose (leaving 1/76 Airfix aside) between the 40-years old Hasegawa one, the ESCI/Italeri kit of similar vintage and the expensive new tool from Dragon. Is the last mentioned worth its price? Which one is the best basis to build a Mk IV (squarish-type cast turret with 75mm gun) model?

Some years ago I have seen also the Churchill under the Humbrol and Heller labels? Were they just rebadged Airfix kits or something other?

After some 40 years break in AFV modelling I'd like to build some dozen of the most prominent WW2 tanks. What I need is accurate dimensions and sharp surface detail - interior doesn't count as all hatches will be closed. Could you help me with building such a stash?

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Try looking away from the injection-moulded kits into the many resin producers.  There is a strong bias towards 1/76 amongst British producers, but Cromwell has recently changed over completely to 1/72 and may have something suitable.

 

Yes, the Humbrol/Heller kits were the Airfix one rebadged.

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The Hasegawa Churchill is a Mark I/II, with no trackguards and a completely different turret.  The Mk I has a 3" howitzer instead of the hull machine gun.  Not a sensible starting point for a Mk.IV.  As for the kit, it's dated but not bad.  I bought one recently but can't lay my hands on it at the mo: I recall thinking the tracks looked a bit toylike (track links way too big?) but haven't investigated further.

 

The Dragon Churchill kits are a mixture of Mk.III and Mk.IV variants.  I have before me 7507 Churchill Mk IV NA 75 and 7521 Churchill lV AVRE.  Both have the same Mk IV turret sprue with 3 gun options: long 6 pdr with counterweight, 75mm with muzzle brake and US 75mm for the NA 75.  So either of these could be built as a standard Mk IV as long as you can find your own transfers.  I expect there's a standard Mk IV kit out there somewhere.  The reason I have these kits is that Jadlam were selling them at around the £11-13 mark, still not cheap but considerable discounts from the usual pornographic Dragon prices.  As for the kits themselves, I admit being disappointed.  Some of the detail is perfunctorily two-dimensional eg the mud chutes.  Parts that were moulded separately even in the ancient Airfix Churchill VII are moulded with the surfaces on which they stand eg exhaust, towropes.  The AVRE-specific bits are especially disappointing: 2-dimensional and not a patch on what I produced from plastic card and microstrip 40 years ago.  I have always considered Dragon kits of German WW2 AFVs excellent but understand from this forum that a decline has been apparent in more recent issues: to my mind the Churchills certainly mark a decline from Dragon when on top of their game.   

 

So, if you want a Churchill IV, it has to be Dragon.  It's not bad but could and should have been much better, especially for the premium prices.

 

Valentine: in the mists of antiquity I, as a 1/76 builder, bought a number of ESCI Valentines to use their turret to replace the fatuously undersized one on the Fujimi 1/76 kit.  The turret looked fine to me.  Never built a hull but, IIRC, the Fujimi kit had more accurate wheel centres.  However, for all I know, there may have been different styles.  I've seen some Armourfast kits.  To me they are wargames models rather than serious scale models.  I like the subjects they offer but those I have seen made up (NB no Valentines) have not inspired me to dip hand into pocket: to me some don't even look right in outline.

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Milicast Model Company, all the British Armour you could ever want.

 

Premier or Battelfield.

 

I am working my way through the range looking at the Western Desert.

 

I do have to limit myself to 2 or 3 a month to justify the postage and spread the cost.  In Dragon Territory, pricewise, some of them.

 

Steve

Edited by Stephen Hawkins

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Coincidentally I recently threw together the Armourfast kit for a bit of fun.  Yeah, it's staggeringly simple, yet too crude to be worth trying to detail.

 

Main issues are: no detail on tracks which are simply horizontal bars. No suspension, the road wheels just hang in space. No turret side detail (rivets etc), virtually all the detail on the hull is either absent (tools, grab handles), overscale (headlamps, periscopes, mudguard brackets), or moulded on (muffler).  I would certainly start with another kit.  You simply have to upgrade almost every single part and detail.

 

Ly8StDk.jpg

 

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1/72 or 1/76? - you will probably find, as I did, that there is much more to be had in 1/76.

 

And there is so much variation in old plastic kits with regard to size and accuracy.  I have a mixture currently, 1/72, 1/76, resin, white metal and injection molded, even some slightly modified Armourfast items, but these will be thinned from the herd as I get better, more accurate, 1/76 replacements.

 

But sometime you have to try a few things out....

 

Cheers

 

Steve 

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Thank you, Gentlemen, for such a detailed survey. So I understand that ESCI/Italeri kit is the only choice for the Valentine as Armourfast is just a toy.

Concerning the Churchill there're some good news - I can buy any Dragon Mk.III or IV as the sprues are virtually the same. Hasegawa and Airfix/Heller/Humbrol antics should be left aside, but one question remains here however - Carli Danilo at "On the way" values the ancient ESCI/Italeri Churchill higher than "new" Dragon kit. What's your opinion?

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Re Dragon Churchills: no, you will need to decide whether you want a Mark III (angular, welded turret) or a Mark IV (cast rounded turret): haven't seen a boxing yet that has both turrets included.  However, AFAIK, any of the Mark IV offerings will include the parts for a standard Mark IV gun tank as well.  I suspect that the Mark III may not come with so many gun options, just the "short", uncounterweighted 6-pounder.

 

Afraid I've never seen an ESCI/Italeri Churchill.  My gob was not altogether smacked by the Dragon Churchills so Carli may have a point.  Even the old Airfix kit has a few plus points over Dragon.   

 

That Armourfast Valentine is pretty ghastly, isn't it?!

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Churchill...

OK - I can ignore the Mk.III. Good news is that all Mk.IV kits (cast turret) feature all 3 gun barrels.

Valentine.....

Just ghastly? I dare say horrible :wall:  Compared to it even the S-model M113 and BMP-1 do look like museum-quality models :)

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One more question - were the early (small turret) Valentines still used by the 1st line units when ops moved to the Italian soil? I know the Churchills were used even after the D-day landing, but on the other hand Grants didn't go northbound farther than Tunisia, didn't they?   

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I am ready to be corrected by I think 50 RTR, the last operator of Valentines, swapped to Shermans before the end of the campaign in Tunisia. In their final order of battle, they had mostly 2-pdr Valentines with a few 6-pdrs for troop leaders etc.  The Poles got the Valentines but only used them for training. So, no Valentines in Italy (though a few Bishops).  And certainly no Grants except perhaps recovery or specialist vehicles.

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Grant Scorpions went to Sicily for sure, pictures show them on landing craft and in the 1943 camo. colours and pattern.  Valentine bridgelayers were used up until 1945, cannot immediately recall which units used them, possibly Corps engineers detached.

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The Valentine bridgelayer was deployed with 3 vehicles at each armoured brigade with Shermans. Churchill brigades had 3 Churchill bridgelayers(Like the Airfix kit but on mk3 or 4 hulls).

 

Valentine gun tanks were also used as platoon and battery command vehicles by at least 1 infantry divison's anti-tank battalion with Archer tank destroyers in North West Europe. I do not know if they were used by any units in Italy.

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Highly recommend the Revell Cromwell (another important British tank).

 

Built at least 6 of them and have another 4 or 5 in the stash.

 

Well detailed, relatively easily built kit.

 

Ben

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I've picked up the Dragon Churchill tanks for as little as $10 USD from DragonUSA when they have had sales - which are quite regular.  Further to the Revell Cromwell, if you should see a Cromwell by ACE, grab it, it's the Revell kit.

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More on the Dragon Churchills.  Courtesy of Jadlam's sale I know have 7520 "Churchill III Fitted For Wading" and 7327 Churchill III AVRE.  The latter has all the parts for a standard Mk.III with a short 6 pdr gun.   7520 can certainly also be built as a Mk.III (ie just leave off the wading kit) but it is really only suitable for a Dieppe-era tank as it has minimal trackguards (only next to the air intakes).  

 

I find that the variant boxings tend to hang around longer and go for less than the standard gun tank kits.  But here in the UK even the Jadlam sale price was around the $20 mark - probably more at current rates of exchange.

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if some of you chaps do not like the armourfast valentine then you are not going to like the oxford churchill either.

the detail on the churchill is very soft and is very simpley a model for collectors diecast display and sticking on the new oxford rail warflats for train modelrs.

i think the comments about the armourfast valentine are a bit harsh when you consider who it is aimed at, not the likes of yourselves that is for sure.

yes it is simple and lacks details but it is aimed at younger modelers and wargamers who would not want to spend a lot of money on dragon kits, they take far too long to assemble and gamers want lots of them.

remember the name armour-fast! not i make one tank a year!

and yes they sell very well with the accesories and conversion sets now available.

a bit like psc models.

Edited by sandsmodels

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