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IDF Shot Kal w/Gimel (35A032) 1:35


Mike
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IDF Shot Kal w/Gimel (35A032)

1:35 Amusing Hobby via Albion Alloys

 

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No-one that is familiar with WWII British armour could say with hand on heart that the tanks fielded were adequate for the task in hand, and sometimes they were barely adequate to even be used in battle.  The War Office was painfully aware of the fact, which can be partly laid at the door of inadequate development and funding in the approach to the war, but by 1943 work had begun to rectifying this lapse in quality.  What became known as the Centurion was on the drawing board and in development during the last two years of the war, and the initial instances rolled off the production line while the guns were still firing during January of 1945.  They took the suspension of the lacklustre Comet, extended it with an extra wheel-set and also widened it, using Horstmann suspension for practicality’s sake, even though its ride was inferior to the bulkier Christie type.  It was outfitted with sloped armour that was best-in-class, and at outset it used the Rolls Royce Meteor engine, which was both capable and well-known by that point.  Initial production used the 17-pounder gun that had transformed the Sherman into the Firefly, which was capable of taking out a Tiger at a reasonable distance.

 

The Mark II followed quickly with increased performance and armour, again replaced by the Mk.III that was a major update with gun stabilisation giving the crew the capability of firing the new 20 pounder gun accurately on the move, accelerating the removal of the Mk.I and Mk.IIs from service due to its massive improvement over its forebears.  The Mk.V used the even more capable L7 gun that kept it ahead of most tanks of its day, a weapon that saw long service wherever it was used.  Overseas sales of the type were excellent, with a large number of operators, some of whom used them for an extensive period, such as Israel, who named the initial batch Sho’t, which translates to Whip in English.  With the capture of enemy tanks during the 60s, the Israelis had over 300 on hand, which they began upgrading in their usual manner to extend their lifespan and improve crew survivability.  With a new engine and transmission that required a raised engine deck, and a new armour pack from the Mk.13, the name was changed to Sho’t Kal, with a further suffix depending on what upgrades the type carried.  The Gimel received a new turret rotation mechanism, Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA) package, and a new cupola for the commander, keeping it at the top of the AFV tree in its area of operation.  The gradual drawdown of the Sho’t Kal began before 1990, with most of the survivors re-engineered to be used as Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) such as the Puma or Nagmachon, and Combat Engineering Vehicles that extended their usefulness long beyond that anticipated by the original designers.

 

 

The Kit

This is a substantial additive re-tool of the original Centurion/FV4005 kit from Amusing Hobby from recent times, adding four more sprues to the box.  The kit arrives in a sturdy top-opening box with an appealing painting of the subject matter on the top, and inside are fifteen sprues and one hull part in sand-coloured styrene, a bag of 210+ (I lost count) individual track links in brown styrene, a single round clear part (not pictured), a bag of six brass springs, a length of braided thread, a new fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a small decal sheet and an instruction booklet in portrait A4 format.  Detail is up to the standards we’ve come to expect from Amusing Hobby, and the new parts include a replacement engine deck, the mantlet and corrugated blast-bag, and the additional stowage basket on the rear of the turret.

 

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Construction begins with the assembly of the bogies that are built around the six metal 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 cap.  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, as seen on the WWII Panther.  At the front is the idler wheel on an armoured axle that pivots to give good track tension once you have made them up and wrapped them around the road wheels.

 

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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 assemble, 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 perhaps could be under ideal circumstances.  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 and weathering process.  Both runs of links are applied to the vehicles with the traction bar on each link to the rear, so ensure you test-fit them properly before you put them in for the final time.

 

A number of spare track links are fitted to the rear bulkhead with more towing eyes and the infantry telephone box, separated by an insert.  A number of PE stiffening plates are added to the sloped lower bulkhead, which have large bolts etched in.  The new engine deck has PE plates fixed to it and a hole bored from inside, as does the glacis plate, the driver's glacis panel and the turret ring section.  The driver’s clamshell hatch has a pair of vision blocks with armoured housings added to their front, with some small curved parts added from PE along the way.  The glacis plate has the front fenders moulded into it, and this is outfitted with ERA blocks and a few small PE parts during installation plus fender extensions, completing the basic hull.  The fenders have some holes drilled and some small sections removed, as do some of the small parts that add detail, and create the detailed stowage boxes on top of them.  The detail level is then increased further with more boxes than other boxings, supports and a selection of pioneer tools, with more PE parts being added to some of the boxes here and there.  The engine deck has a pair of exhaust pipes with separate PE flappers added, and a large number of grab handles and other small parts, plus the travel-lock for the barrel.  At the front, more ERA blocks are dotted around, some on top of stowage boxes, a pair of front light clusters behind protective frames, attaching to the ram, and the sturdy arrow-head ram with a spare road wheel bolted to the top.  The side-skirts are glued into place with the fenders, and the two towing cables are made up from styrene eyes with two lengths of braided cord of 12cm running between them, with a scrap diagram showing how they should be attached and laid over the rear of the vehicle.

 

Now for the turret.  It is built on a floor surround, which has the turret ring cut out, and has the two sides and the roof wrapped around it, trapping the highly-detailed covered mantlet and its coax machine gun in place, allowing it to elevate if you keep the glue off the pivot pegs.  Some holes are drilled and filled in the roof, then the prominent angular stowage boxes are added to the sides along with aerial bases, and ERA blocks under the stowage boxes.  The commander’s cupola and search light fit into the hole in the roof with armoured covers over the vision blocks, then uzi SMGs on racks, additional ammo boxes, barrel cleaning rods and other small assemblies are scattered around the top and sides of the turret.  More ERA blocks are fixed to the sloped forward section of the turret roof, and the mantlet is first decked out with brackets to mount the ERA blocks that fix either side of the main gun.  The grenade launcher boxes are detailed assemblies that are handed, and attach to the front corners of the turret on brackets with more ERA blocks.  The two crew machine guns are made up and fixed to their brackets on the two hatches, and a large boxy search light is created using the single clear lens and a number of detail parts, to be attached at the root of the barrel later on.  The rear bustle framework is first made from a number of fine tubular parts, then wrapped with PE mesh and has additional fuel cans affixed.  It is glued to the turret rear, which has a pair of circular PE parts glued to the underside, then it is flipped over for making up the main gun.

 

The gun tube is made of three parts, all of which are keyed to ensure the correct orientation, with the corrugated sleeve, tubular fume extractor and tapering muzzle sections, all of which are hollow-tipped, thanks in part to sliding moulds.  You can now choose to use the searchlight or a remote .50cal M2 Browning machine gun over the barrel shroud, making up the latter from a good number of parts and a hollow barrel thanks to another sliding mould.  If you are using the MG on the barrel, the searchlight is stowed on the back of the turret next to the indigenous rear basket, or if you choose to employ it, the empty bracket is shown installed in place on the rear.  Pop the turret on the hull and that’s the gluey part over with.

 

 

Markings

There are decals for two vehicles supplied that wear one paint scheme, and it’s IDF sand grey.  From the box you can depict this:

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The decals are printed in-house and are perfectly adequate for the task in black and white.

 

Conclusion

Another substantial investment in an additive tooling from Amusing Hobby, and it should build into an attractive model.  Anyone wanting to depict the history of the Centurion or with an interest in IDF hardware should get a lot out of this boxing.

 

Highly recommended.

 

Available in the UK in all good model shops.

Review sample courtesy of

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