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  1. 1/35 M19 Tank Transporter (Diamond T 980/981) Merit International LLC Catalogue Number 63501 Available from All good Hobby Shops. Retail £89.99 Imported into the UK by Pocketbond Ltd Yes, I've gone all Diamond t crazy of late!! Truth is, I am a fan of all WW2 military equipment, being the proud owner of a '44 GPW and having a friend with a Diamond T 980. When I heard this kit was being released, I held back, waiting to hear reviews as I feared this kit would be a little "Toy Like" due to the Merit box labelling. How very wrong I was..... This kit has made it quite obvious to me that Merit are very closely linked with Trumpeter and HobbyBoss. I would love to know why this kit wasn't released under the HobbyBoss label?? Its up there with the quality of the brilliant M1070+M1000 kit in my opinion. The box is well packaged with two separate areas for the Sprues, split by a smaller box containing the PE frets, tyres, clear parts, Cab and Trailer bed. There are 581 crisply moulded tan plastic parts, 17 Clear parts, 27 PE parts, 37 Vinyl tyres, a length of thread and a comprehensive instruction booklet. There are two options on the kit decal sheet, but neither are backed up by actual unit locations or dates?? This is one side of the A3 full colour glossy print, showing the British option. If you want to build an accurate model, you will need to research your desired period/unit. Apparently the British didn't use the fairlead in the front bumper, so you'll need to fill the hole if you want to build an accurate British T980 model. So, lets have a good look at we get for our money in this well packaged kit... First up we get a separately packaged one piece cab.. And a separately packaged one piece trailer deck.. Sprue A covers the chassis assembly and fuel tanks. As you can see the chassis is a multi part affair, which will need to be flat and square throughout its assembly. This guarantees far superior detail compared to the one piece chassis mouldings out there. Each tank is vertically split onto two halves, but the upper seam will be covered by some beautifully rendered PE chequer plate. Some of the rivet/bolt detail on the chassis rail You get two of Sprue B, partly protected with the white foam, just like Trumpeter and Hobby Boss. believe it or not, those triangular parts at about one o'clock are the fan belts!! Here's some inner wheel detail for the rear wheels, very crisp indeed... The Leaf springs are moulded in two halves, yes you'll have a seam to clean up, but you get no sinking in the faces. Nice!! Sprue C covers the front body panels and some chassis crossmembers, all crisply moulded again and oozing with detail. It will be a real shame to cover the chassis up!! Here we can see the engine cover vents are moulded open so no special work will be required here.... Chequer plate panels on top of the wings.. Pretty crisp, but I have seen better ;-) Moving on to Sprue D, we have the rear "box" parts. These used to be filled with massive rocks to get some weight on the rear axles for traction when dragging tanks out of a ditch etc.. Sprue E covers all the little odds and ends found throughout the truck, along with the front axle and some brake parts. The engine Fan is crisply rendered.. The top of the gearbox is moulded with exquisite detail.. Sprue F covers the engines major components, a chassis brace and gearbox components. The Hercules engine block looks lovely!! The word Hercules has cleverly been mis moulded on the exhaust manifold... a simple scrape with a scalpel and the addition of a couple of bits of stretched sprue will have it spelt correctly in no time...copyright eh!!! And so, with Sprue g we move on to the trailer parts. obviously this is the massive one piece frame which is going to be fitted to the one piece bed shown earlier. The rest of the sprue is for the upper strengthening frame over the front bogie. Just look at this lovely moulding for the front bogies, see step 21 of the instructions. Sprue H has all the parts for the a frame towing bracketry and the fully detailed manual braking system You get for off of this sprue, J, in the box. just look at all those lovely wheel rims and hubs!! The wheel hub detail is amazing!! There are 2 of these Sprues in the box. Sprue K contains the parts to make the rear ramps and rear trailer suspension components. Once again, as with the front suspension units, the rear units are beautifully moulded. Sprue L has all the parts required to build the cab interior, floor and bulkhead. It looks like Merit will be releasing a soft top version at some point? The dashboard is a nice piece of moulding, and has a decal should you wish to use it? Door interior detail is provided, with no ejector pin marks, which is nice!! the clear sprue is small, but VERY clear. Clear parts just get better and better these days, some of the best I've ever seen are in this kit!! As previously mentioned in this review, you get two sheets of PE in the kit, even though 8 off parts from fret B are not required for this kit. You get no less than 37 tyres in the kit, if you don't like vinyl tyres, Real Model have produced a set of resin wheels and tyres for the kit for €27.00. The decal sheet is fairly comprehensive for the subject, giving US and British versions. So, all in all a lovely kit that will look great in your cabinet alongside your Dragon Wagon and Famo?? You could always add a captured Panzer IV for a little interest, there are actual shots of these things shifting Landing Craft!! Think how good that would look?? The next few images cover the instructions, with no text from myself, just lots of pretty pictures for you... ://i494.photobucket.com/albums/rr307/NigelR32/Merit%20Models%20M-19/Instructions16.jpg[/img][/url] What more can I say, I haven't had the chance to check accuracy of ALL the parts yet but it looks pretty good at first glance. It certainly looks like it will build into a beautiful model. I look forward to the aftermarket companies coming up with the dome shape canvas roof, characteristic of this vehicle.. Thanks to my pocket for buying this kit, and thanks to merit International for producing it. I got this one from Antics Online for a bargain price...
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