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Austin Armoured Car 1918 Pattern (39019) Japanese Service - Interior Kit 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd


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Austin Armoured Car 1918 Pattern (39019)

Japanese Service - Interior Kit

1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd

 

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Armour became an important part of WWI, seeing the first fielding of the Tank by the British, and numerous types of armoured car that saw various uses.  At the beginning of WWI Austin’s armoured car was built on their civilian chassis, with light armour and two Maxim machine guns in separate turrets, one firing to each side, front and rear.  Many were destined for Russia, but after the Russian Revolution in 1917 some of the later variants were used in British service.  One such version was the 1918 Pattern, which had double rear wheels, thicker armour and used the Hotchkiss machine gun instead.  A batch of 1918 Pattern vehicles were manufactured for Russia, but were never delivered, with a batch handed to the newly formed Tank Corps, to be utilised in battle using a novel method of deployment.  Tanks would tow them across the battlefield through no-man’s land, after which they would peel off and roam freely along and even behind enemy lines.  They caused chaos and were almost too effective, ranging miles behind enemy lines at times, and set the scene for the Armoured Car and Infantry Fighting Vehicle of wars yet to come. At the end of the Great War some were returned to the UK and repurposed, but many that were formerly in Russian possession found their way into the inventory of other Eastern European countries, and a small batch were even used by the Japanese, who were British Allies in WWI.  Some of those were still in service up until just before WWII.

 

 

The Kit

This is a reboxing of last year’s newly tooled kit, with new parts to accurately portray the mark included.  It arrives in standard-sized top-opening box with a painting of the vehicle on the front, and inside are fifteen sprues and six wheels in grey styrene, a sprue of clear parts, a small fret of Photo-Etch (PE) in a card envelope, a decal sheet and the instruction booklet that has colour profiles inside the front and rear covers.  It’s an Interior kit, so some of the sprues are small, but you get a lot of detail moulded-in, thanks to MiniArt’s diligent designers that make full use of techniques such as slide-moulding, which helps improve detail without creating too many additional parts in achieving this goal.

 

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Construction begins with the ladder chassis, which is built up from two longitudinal rails held apart by various cross-members, some of which have mounting points and pass-throughs for other parts such as drive-shafts for the rear wheels.   The engine has its own bearer rails, and it is built up on the sump with a good number of parts, plus a note of where the high-tension leads should go, which you’ll need to make yourself.  You are officially an “experienced modeller” if you go to those lengths.  The transmission fits to the rear of the rails behind the engine, then they are dropped into the chassis as a unit, and joined by a number of ancillary parts, controls and a chunky radiator.  Exhaust and leaf-spring suspension along with bumper irons are glued to the inverted chassis, and the rest of the driver controls are attached to the topside, even before the cab is started.  The rods that turn control movements into actions are threaded through the chassis rails, or can be replaced by 0.3mm wires of your own stock, with PE tensioning mechanisms supplied if you choose this option.  The big rear axle with drum brakes and the front axle with steering arms are fabricated and attached to their relevant suspension mounts, with more control linkages for the handbrake and steering joining things together.

 

Finally, a little bodywork is attached, initially at the sides of the engine compartments in preparation for the gluing of the swooping front arches, then each axle gets a wheel at both ends, made up from single-part hubs at the front, and mated double hubs at the rear onto which the six cross-treaded tyres are fitted, each one having a slide-moulded seam where the sidewall and tread meet, removing the need to sand and scrape at the lovely tread pattern, simplifying preparation and preserving detail.  That’s a good thing, and something I’d like to see more of.  Now standing on her own six wheels, the floor of the fighting compartment and the crew cab plus the firewall and various small fittings are placed on the top of the chassis, with another insert providing the bases for the two turrets that have pivot-points in the centre for the machine gun mounts.  Various stowage boxes are made up and sat next to the (shocker!) rear steering wheel assembly, which also has a simple seat for getting out of hot water and dead-ends just that little bit easier.  Two more substantial crew seats are attached to the front along with steps at the sides, then the somewhat complex upper hull is built sensibly in a step-by-step fashion that stops the modeller from being over-faced.  Several raised features should be removed from parts before fitting, and additional rivets are shown being added in various other locations, which you can slice from the flat section of the two Ck sprues, unless you’ve got a set of Archer raised rivet transfers.  The clamshell crew flap can be posed open to give a wider view of the battlefield for the drivers by using two styles of rods, and when in battle it can be closed down, restricting the driver to a letterbox view of the world, which although frustrating is infinitely better than being shot.  Plenty of scrap diagrams show the correct orientations of all the parts, so there’s little room for error unless you rush at it and don’t plan ahead.  The hull has a number of doors that can be posed open and closed too, with vision flaps for additional situational awareness, and again there is a lot of hand-holding to get things in the right place.  A number of small lights are dotted here & there, all with clear lenses for realism.  Even the radiator has a remotely operated armoured cover, as engines overheating could become troublesome if the flap stays closed too long.  The side-cowlings for the engine compartment can also be posed open or closed, and have small PE straps holding them closed.  With the addition of the rear fenders, the hull/body is lowered over the chassis, and more stowage is located around the vehicle, including a rack of fuel cans on the front left to make sure they don’t run out behind enemy lines.  Pioneer tools are attached to the sides of the car, and a pair of curved-ended unditching planks are strapped-on low down on the chassis sides by some folded PE brackets.

 

Turrets why use one when two are better?  You build up a pair of mounts for the Hotchkiss machine guns, including a tractor-style perforated seat for the operator and a large ammo can to feed the gun, which is fitted into a  mount that is glued up against the inner surface of the two-part circular walls.  A few more of those slice-off rivets are glued to the top of the turret walls, mainly for detail purposes, as adding moulded-in rivets to a curved part is very hit & miss due to the way the parts are removed from the moulds.  Armoured shields are provided for the gun openings with pe supports to hold them in place. The roof is detailed with latches, searchlights on PE brackets and other small fittings, each one fitted open or closed as you see fit.  There are two identical turrets included, and these drop into the circular cut-outs in the roof of the fighting compartment, held in place by gravity unless you fix them into position with a little glue.

 

 

Markings

There are  5 schemes for the Japanese use, but these are very sparse on markings with a very small decal sheet providing markings for one scheme only. From the box you can build one of the following:

 

  • Imperial Japanese Army, Japan 1919
  • Imperial Japanese Army, Vladivostok, 1920
  • Imperial Japanese Army, Japan 1920s
  • Imperial Japanese Army, Japan, Land Forces Automobile School, 1920s
  • Imperial Japanese Army, China, 1930s

 

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Conclusion

This peculiar early armoured car isn’t as familiar as other vehicles, and overseas users have not gained much following so it’s been great seeing MiniArt filling another gap in the available kits of early armour.  Detail is exceptional as we’ve come to expect from MiniArt.

 

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