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FV221 Caernarvon British Heavy Tank (35A042) 1:35


Mike
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FV221 Caernarvon British Heavy Tank (35A042)

1:35 Amusing Hobby via Albion Alloys

 

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Following WWII’s end, the Allies were a little bit obsessed with emulating the Nazi’s struggle to make bigger and more powerful AFVs, until they realised that perhaps slightly more manageable, mobile armour was more suitable.  While Britain thrashed about looking for a suitable heavy tank that would lead to a number of types based on one chassis, the Conqueror came into existence, eventually leading down a dead-end and being replaced by the Chieftain in due course.  An offshoot from this project was the CV221 Caernarvon, which was a Conqueror chassis that had a Centurion Mk.II turret grafted on, initially with a 17-pounder for the prototype and later with a 20-pounder main gun from a Centurion Mk.III shoehorned into it.  Whether they intended this to be the Main Battle Tank or not is open to conjecture, but only one of the 17-pounder and 21 of the 20-pounders were ever made, which were named Mk.1 and Mk.2 respectively.  Some of the Mk.2s were later converted back to Conquerors, which while it could never be termed a success was of more use to the army than the Caernarvons.  When the Centurion was upgraded to a 105mm gun, the reason to continue with the Caernarvon must have evaporated in an instant, as it was heavier and lighter armed, leading to the cancellation of the project and the conversion back to Conquerors for many of the experimental series of hulls.

 

 

The Kit

This is another minor retooling of the original Conqueror Mk.I kit (35A006) with the addition of a couple of extra sprues of parts from their Centurion line, and a new decal sheet.  Detail is of course good, as per the previous issues, and the new sprues from the Centurion are engineered and detailed in the same manner, so will blend in seamlessly.  In the box you get ten sprues and two hull parts in a sand-coloured styrene, a bag of track-links in brown styrene, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a bag of eight springs, a length of braided cord, small decal sheet, colour instruction booklet with painting and markings guide at the rear.

 

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Construction begins with the hull, and the suspension bogies that contain the Horstmann suspension units, which is where the real springs come in.  These are contained between two end-caps, which affix to a back-plate, and if you're careful with the glue when you attach the perforated front part, you should end up with working suspension.  Two pairs of road wheels and a single pair of return rollers are fixed to the axles, and held in place by hub caps that fit using friction alone, so the wheels should turn too if you don't overdo the paint.  This is repeated over the eight bogies, a multi-part drive sprocket with final drive housing is installed at the rear and the adjustable idler wheels are added to the lower glacis, with an element of adjustment possible before you apply glue, which should allow you to take up any additional slack in the tracks before you finish construction.  A set of small side skirts are glued along the length of the road wheel area, with tie-downs/grab-handles at either end, although it may be better to leave these off until after the tracks are fitted, and possibly until after painting.  The rear bulkhead fits to the opening in the back of the hull after being decked-out with towing hooks and various small parts, after which the upper hull becomes the focus for a while.

 

The upper hull is essentially complete save for the front glacis plate, which is the first of the new parts, having the light clusters and lifting eyes fitted, while on the rear deck a few spare track links are added on the moulded-in fenders along with the usual complement of pioneer tools with moulded-in tie-downs.  The driver's deck is also installed with a hatch to be used with the hinge and vision block parts, dropping into the aperture in the hull, and leaving the hatch movable.  The stowage boxes and other small parts that are sprinkled around the upper hull are also carried over from the Conqueror, with towing cables made up from the braided cord and having styrene eyes at each end.  Also on the engine deck the Conqueror Mk.2 exhaust assembly is run down both sides of the area, with angled protective shrouds covering each one in place of the rather complex-looking assembly of the Mk.1.

 

The turret is much the same as the Conqueror in terms of construction, and is made up from an upper part, two-part sides, and separate turret ring, onto which the various hatches, sensors and vision ports are affixed.  Two sets of smoke grenade launchers attach to the turret sides, a communications wire reel is fitted to the port side, and the shell-ejection port is glued in place over its port.  The mantlet fixes to a pair of pivots that are added to the front of the turret early on, then the single-part barrel with slide-moulded muzzle threads through the hole into the socket with a coaxial machine gun next door.  The commander's fancy cupola-cum-sighting-mechanism is next, with the majority of small parts from the Mk.1, including hatch, lifting eyes, vision blocks and machine gun.  The completed assembly twists into place, locking to the turret with a bayonet fitting.  The final diagram shows the turret, upper hull, lower hull and track runs coming together in one fell swoop.

 

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The tracks are very nicely moulded, and are of the click-fit workable variety, which works very well indeed in this instance.  The parts are moulded in pairs with a small injection manifold between them, and they are attached by only two sprue gates, with no ejector pins to deal with.  Clean-up is super-simple due to the location of the gates, and the click action is quite robust, leaving you with a run of tracks in fairly short order, which is just as well as you need 98 links per side.  Having seen a few rather poorly engineered track-joining methods from other major manufacturers over the years, it's refreshing to see a genuinely good track-making method from Amusing Hobby.  The last job is to build the gun's travel lock that’s added to a pair of hinge-points on the rear bulkhead.

 

 

Markings

It's an AFV kit, so the decal sheet is the size of an over-motivated stamp, and because of the limited colour palette and lack of complexity of the designs, only five colours are used on the sheet.  The two decal options have been penned by AMMO on Amusing Hobby’s behalf, but it isn’t documented where and when they served, if ever.

 

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The decals are well-printed in China, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas.

 

 

Conclusion

It didn’t see much service and there weren’t many of them, but the FV 200 series do have a certain presence, especially in the flesh when you realise they’re massive.  It’s an interesting divergence from the mainstream, and should be a reasonably easy build with those modeller-friendly tracks helping immensely.

 

Highly recommended.

 

Available in the UK in all good model shops.

Review sample courtesy of

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  • 1 month later...

My copy of this kit arrived a couple of days ago, almost completing my Conqueror line up. Having built four Amusing Hobby kits I've found they go together very nicely, the tracks being easiest I've ever put together. Can't wait to start this new one. 

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