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British B-Type Armoured Lorry (39006) 1:35


Mike

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British B-Type Armoured Lorry (39006)

1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd

 

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Born in Manchester, Charles Samson was a Naval aviator (stay with me) who saw action commanding an RNAS squadron by the beginning of WWI, but due to a frustrating lack of functional aircraft to fly against the enemy, he and his cohorts took it upon themselves to take the fight to the Germans using their personal vehicles that they had shipped across from Blighty, initially arming them with machine guns, then shipping more vehicles across the Channel that had been up-armoured with steel plate in the Royal Navy workshops.  The shipment included a few trucks that had been similarly hardened and fitted with loupes that permitted the crew to fire on the enemy from the relative safety of the vehicle.  This was the beginning of the RNAS Armoured Car Squadron, and they were nicknamed Samson’s Motor Bandits, a typically WWII-style name, reminiscent of a character from Biggles.

 

They were shipped Type-B buses as part of their consignment, which had been stripped of their civilian bodywork and fitted with an armoured cab and a similarly armoured open-topped load-bed that had sloped sides with a recurved lip to deflect any rounds striking the vehicle’s sides, leaving the gunners without an additional nostril.  The solid tyres could handle hits from small-rounds too, and the driver was protected by a frontal panel, part of which could fold back to afford him a better view when the precipitation didn’t include lead.  Speaking of precipitation, the top of both compartments were open to the elements, but also grenades, so keeping moving was key to their survival.  As the Germans became more used to these raiders visiting them around the Dunkirk and Antwerp areas, they deployed light field guns where they were expected, which led to the fitting of at least one Type-B with a cannon to counter them, also adding heavier fire support to their raids.

 

 

The Kit

Sharing a few sprues with the original Type-B Omnibus on which it was based, this is a predominantly new tooling from MiniArt, depicting these brave and reckless lunatics from WWI.  The kit arrives in a top-opening box with a painting of the subject on the front, and inside are nine sprues in various sizes in grey styrene, a small clear sprue, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE), decal sheet, and the usual A4 instruction booklet, printed in colour on glossy paper, with a full colour painting guide on the rear page.  Detail is excellent, as we’ve come to expect from MiniArt, with a smattering of slide-moulding going on to improve detail without increasing the part-count unduly.  The kit is also a full rendering of the vehicle, including chassis, engine and both crew and passenger compartments.

 

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Construction begins with the engine, which is typically Heath-Robinson in accordance with style of the era, depicting the cylinder block, sump, paired cylinders that have tappit springs running down the outsides, plus a surprisingly spindly exhaust manifold, and the usual accessories that make things work.  There are also diagrams for the advanced modeller to add wiring from the cylinder heads to the ‘sandwich box’ that is more likely some kind of predecessor to a distributor.  A large fly-wheel and clutch assembly is made up and added to the first-motion shaft at one end of the motor, building a transfer box and short drive-shaft for later use.  The chassis is made from two outer rails with a surprising ten cross-members and two side-mounted L-beams to the topside of the rails where the engine is to be installed next.  It fixes to two of the cross-members on lugs, then has the fan and its belt inserted on one of the beams with an A-frame holding it above the chassis.  The chassis is kept inverted for the time-being, adding leaf-springs beside the motor, and two more at the rear with a pair of suspension cones outside the rails.  An armoured surround is mounted around the fly-wheel, and after righting the chassis, the three-part steering box is mated with the right rail next to the fly-wheel.  The armoured bulkhead and front cab wall are fixed to the chassis with a choice of open or closed driver vision-ports, then the radiator is built up, starting with the two-part core, plus top, bottom and side covers, closing it up with a curved header and filler-cap assembly.  The mounting brackets are added to the sides, and a set of protective railings are glued to the front, installing it at the front of the engine bay, linking the feeder hose from the top of the cylinder head.

 

Beneath the chassis, the rear axle is built with a differential bulge at the centre, fitting three linkages to brackets on the chassis once it is in place on the rear leaf-springs.  The front axle with steering arm is installed on the front springs, with a pair of linkages threaded through the rails after it is in place.  The transfer box made earlier is mounted in the centre of the chassis on two cross-members, linking the rear axle to the back of it with another drive-shaft and protecting it with an armoured cover.  A double linkage is made up and inserted between two members, with two diagrams showing how it should look from both ends.  The steering wheel is mounted on a long column and slipped into the steering box, adding the horn and gear-shifter to the bulkhead, another lever in the floor and two pedals in the floor after it has been glued to the chassis behind the bulkhead.  The centre support is added between the radiator and bulkhead, supporting the two-part cowlings on the side, which have optional plaques or vehicle numbers on the PE sheet.  These can be glued closed or open by following one of the two diagram choices, and you can mix and match open and/or closed as you like it.  Inverting the chassis again, the exhaust downpipe, muffler and exit pipe are joined together with PE rings between the parts, fitting it in place on the cross-rails, and mounting the hand-brake for the front and rear axles to the right rail on the outside, with a linkage included for the rear brake.  On the left side a foot-step is installed on a bracket, and a fire extinguisher that does a creditable impression of a milk churn is mounted on the bulkhead on a platform and held in place by a PE belt.  The rest of the cab is built with asymmetrical sides to include an access door, and a bench seat with stowage box underneath, adding the rear armour before fixing it to the chassis, with a dropped front armour plate below the radiator that allows a pass-through hand-cranking handle.  More armoured sheet in the shape of a plough is installed to protect the radiator, with the option of folding up the lower front portion to increase ventilation to the radiator that is held in place by a pair of PE clips.

 

The passenger compartment is built on a flat wooden planked floor, adding trapezoid front and rear bulkheads, and sloped side armour, then fixing U-shaped supports for the three bench seats to the insides of each side, which can then drop into position, securing them with glue if you want.  Five cross-braces are installed under the floor, and when it is glued onto the chassis, the twin bolts are topped off with straps in a similar manner as U-bolts.  A curved fender is fitted to the sides of the engine compartment by a pair of brackets, to which a highly-detailed lamp on a Y-shaped bracket with a PE top and clear lens in the front, attached to the front of the cab by a PE bracket.

 

The wheels are spoked, although the rear wheels are twin-wheeled to take the extra weight, and made from stronger designs that give them a more modern ‘Lamborghini’ appearance (if you squint).  The front rims have two wheel halves assembled around them, while the rear wheels have fatter double tyres and a large two-part boss inserted into the centre, all of which slides onto the axles.  The vehicle is finished off by adding grab handles on the sides and rear of the fighting compartment, plus three short ladders hanging down below the floor for easy access.

 

 

Markings

This was a very niche vehicle type, and as a result only one scheme is provided, which is a neutral, possibly Admiralty Grey, the codes for which are given in Vallejo, Mr.Color, AK RealColor, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya and generic colour names to assist you in picking the correct shade.  From the box you can depict the following vehicle:

 

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Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas.

 

 

Conclusion

An interesting conversion of a Type-B bus into an early armoured car used to carry out some seat-of-the-pants derring-do by this larger-than-life character and his cohorts during WWI.  The kit is well-detailed, and all those grey panels are begging to be weathered and splattered with mud.

 

Highly recommended.

 

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