Mike Posted May 18, 2020 Share Posted May 18, 2020 FV 4005 Stage 2 Self-Propelled Gun (35A029) 1:35 Amusing Hobby Everyone with an interest in British armour probably knows the Centurion tank at least on sight, and that it was the UK’s earliest Main Battle Tank, and most well-regarded amongst its peers, having a long service life and more variants than many. One of its many variants includes the lesser-known Self-Propelled Gun (SPG) prototypes that are lesser known for the reason that they never proceeded past prototype. The initial SPG variants began with big ambitions, but were abandoned in favour of other more appealing projects, one of which was the FV433 Abbot. The huge 183mm gun that was to be mounted in the FV4005 was developed from a 7.2” howitzer, and was enclosed in a fairly lightly armoured turret on a Centurion chassis. It fared no better, and was dismantled before the end of the 50s. A similar fate befell the FV 4004, named the Conway that was developed as a fill-in until the big Conqueror came on-stream, based upon a Mk.3 Centurion chassis and a 120mm gun in an oversized turret. Happily, the FV4005 now resides at Bovington Tank Museum, and if you’ve ever seen it in the grounds there, you’ll realise what a huge turret it had. The Kit This is a new tool from Amusing Hobby, who have a thing for British “almost” projects of late, and are filling in some gaps between the in-service tanks that will no doubt please the what-if modellers as well as those that enjoy building cancelled projects or just downright unusual vehicles. The kit arrives in a by-now familiar box with a rather severe-looking painting of the SPG in an urban environment with what looks vaguely like a burned out T-34 in the background. Inside the box are ten sprues of varying sizes in sand-coloured styrene, plus a single lower hull part in the same colour. There is also a bag of brown track-links, a bag of brass springs, a length of braided cable, a small fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a diminutive decal sheet and the instruction booklet with a colour cover that has profiles on the rear. Detail is good throughout, with large slab-sided panels everywhere, differentiating from the cast elements such as the final drive housing that has a light casting texture moulded-in. If you want a more realistic finish to the rolled steel parts, check the available photos online and consult the various techniques for producing the texture on such armour. Construction begins with the assembly of the bogies that are built around the springs to give the suspension arms some real travel, providing you keep the glue away from the pivot points. There are three of these each side of the large hull tub, and each one carries four wheels in pairs on two axles each, held onto the axles with a central hub part. The tracks are wide, so the return rollers sit on projecting bases, and long stand-off brackets are added to support the side skirts later in the build. The huge final drive housing is layered up and topped with a toothed drive sprocket and a small roller that is probably there to prevent track shedding during turns. At the front is the idler wheel on an axle that pivots to give good track tension once you have made them up and wrapped them around the road wheels. The tracks are supplied free of any sprues and quite free of clean-up, especially if you are planning on dirtying them up later, so you can just start making them up there and then. Each side uses 102 links, and as they snap together they shouldn’t take too long to put together, which is nice. I put together 12 links in a few minutes, and they do remain workable, although they aren’t as mobile as they could be. You might get the occasional one coming adrift, but in general they should be fairly easy to fit, and if you want to freeze them in place once you have them installed, a dab of glue to each link will do the trick, leaving you free to handle them more roughly during the painting process. Both runs of links are applied to the vehicles with the traction bar to the rear, so ensure you test-fit them properly before you put them in for the final time. Due to the size of the gun and hefty recoil, the rear bulkhead has a self-entrenching tool fitted on two swing-arms along with the armoured cooling vents and the ubiquitous communications telephone box on the rear. The engine deck is attached to the turret ring, then fitted to the hull, with the area under the mantlet having a large clamshell hatch with vision blocks in each half. The glacis plate has the front fenders moulded-in, and the rear portion of the engine-deck is closed off with a set of access panels with a raised edge, then the big fenders are fitted to a groove in the side of the hull, with detail parts added all down the side of the stowage boxes. The exhaust and its silencer sit on the aft sections of the fenders with a flared tip at the rear and a heat shield, then it is joined by a number of pioneer tools and the rear mudguards on both sides. PE stiffener plates are attached to the front fenders, along with the towing eyes and shackles front and rear, plus the side skirts that will hide away a lot of the tracks, so you could perhaps skimp with track building there if you wanted too. The turret is provided as an open-ended shell to which you add the rear panel with moulded-in access hatch, then detail with the stiffening ribs that are prominent on the sides. Small hatches are fitted to the roof, and the .303 coax machinegun is visible through the front of the box that sits on the left of the mantlet, while underneath the turret is fitted a stepped floor with the turret ring on the lower area, and the perforated floor in the rear. The tall mantlet has a pivot mechanism glued to the rear before it is inserted into the front of the turret, with a slot for the gun barrel, which is made up from three cylindrical sections, each having hollow tips, one for the muzzle, and one for the attachment to the pivot. The turret is then flipped over and slotted into the hull, with two double-tow cables made up from plastic eyes and the braided material that is provided. These are draped on the deck around the rear of the turret, with a location point on the rear hull and on the tops of the fenders. The last part of the vehicle to be constructed is the gun travel-lock, which can be made up on stowed or travel positions and using the same set of parts for each. For the stowed option the two front braces are folded to the sides of the glacis and the main A-frame is laid flat down the slope, while the travelling set-up has the A-frame standing at an angle with the clamp around the barrel and the front braces standing vertically. Markings This tank, nicknamed a less family-friendly version of the “poopbarn” never saw service, so the postage stamp sized decal sheet is adequate. It consists of a black maple-leaf and a white/red/white banner that is reminiscent of the WWI colours worn by the early British tanks. In addition, an April Fool decal and serial number in white. Only one vehicle is shown on the instructions, so you’re left wondering where the black leaf goes. If you check out the side of the box however, you’ll see another chassis in a NATO-esque four colour scheme with the emblem on the turret, but this isn’t documented elsewhere, so you’ll have to make up the camo demarcations that can’t be seen. Conclusion An interesting tank that sits somewhere between What-If and reality, having one extant chassis that I’ve seen with my own eyes outside Bovvy. It’s an exterior kit with good detail, nice tracks and an impressive turret that will doubtless generate some questions as to what it is wherever you display it. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of 2 2 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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