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Found 18 results

  1. Fokker F.I/DR.I. By Ray Rimmel with Richard Alexander Volume one Anthology Series Available at http://www.windsockdatafilespecials.co.uk/ The new Windsock book is a most expecting one by Ray Rimmel, with an extra collaboration of Richard Alexander, former Wingnut Wings General Manager. Dedicated entirely to Fokker DrI, it has been directly think for the new Meng Fokker Dr.I 1:32 and 1:24 scale. Yes, both of these were to be release by Wingnut Wings before it went down. Thankfully, Meng pick them up and release them to the market. As you can see in the cover, this is the volume I so more is to come in the future, probably with a full construction of 1:24 Meng Fokker Dr.I and with new fantastic pictures and profiles. Speaking of cover, in this case it is a digital composite from Jerry Boucher with Ray Rimmel models, representing Rittmeister Manfred Von Richthofen flying his newly-painted DR. I 425/17 in a dogfight with a British SE5 in March 1918. Let`s see what do you get with this book. So there`s several parts: 1:32 and 1:24 F.I/Dr.I kit reviews from Andreas to Meng. Detailed painting notes from Richard Alexander with a model paint comparison chart. The pre-production Triplanes with archive photos and Ray Rimell's highly detailed build log of the Meng F.I in Voss' colours-all supported by Juanita Franzi's multi-view artwork. How the original WNW kits were designed-a unique Q & A with Richard Alexander. Colour close-up images of Mikael Carlson's superb airworthy Dr.I replica. Authentic diorama incorporating the Roden Dr.I with a railway transport wagon. Fully detailed build log of the Meng Dr.I finished as von Richthofen's iconic red-painted DR.I 425/17 by Ray Rimell with fabric analysis and colour profile. Detailed and authentic all-new 1:32 scale colour profiles of 10 early production aircraft by Ronny Bar-all supported by reference photos and Meng modelling notes. Gallery of archive portrait and close-up photos chosen with modellers in mind. Appendices with bibliography, manufacturers' web links. With 73 pages on gloss paper of which at first glance has the typical structure and winner receipt of the previous datafiles but with almost the double of pages of a normal datafile. In the opening (back of the cover), as usual, a fantastic profile by unique and unmistakable Ronny Bar. The particularly profile is from Fokker F.1 103/17, flown the famous Werner Voss. After the foreword (Richard Alexander) and author introductions, the opening chapter is about modelling Foker DR.I history. All, or almost all existent or pre-existent models are reference here. Then the first “tecnichal” article on this book and a very interesting one to all modelers: “Streaking to the finish line” by Richard Alexander where talks extensively about the colors of the Fokker Dr.I, in the various operational moments. Its "new" appreciation is with the appropriate historical justification. Richard also doesn't escape the supreme controversy: the unique cowling of the Fokker F.1 103/17 – Werner Voss plane – yellow or grey?? Well you will need to got this book to know which Richard thought is. To end this article, a fantastic and very useful model paint conversion chart for Fokker Dr I is given by Richard Alexander. Next, the reader get a F.1 Pre-Production folio, a very interesting reading and several pictures of the three pre-productions examples: F.I 101/17, F.I 102/17 and F.I 103/17. Then the author takes us to a full build 1:32 Meng Fokker DRI representing the F.I 103/17 with some after markets included from Fokker Nutz, Master and HGW. All steps are cover with a full text explanation and several pictures of the ongoing build with close-ups and real pictures in detail to help the modeler out with location and specially, with detail. On the final part of this building, the new Hangar from Aviattic was built and I must say that, after seeing it, in a pre-production phase, it`s an fantastic addiction to a WWI diorama. Not a cheap hangar but a fantastic one. The next chapter is “Recreating a Legend”. It´s an exclusive interview with Richard Alexander, the first one after Wingnut Wings closure. I have had the pleasure to interview Richard in the past, while he was WnW General Manager and it`s was a blast to talk to him, back then, about wingnut wings and how Wingnut Wings fans got me that chance. After that I have had a better yet, a personal meet in Telford and the opportunity to “work” in WnW stand in Telford and its was crazy. I can call Richard a friend now and it was amazing to meet him. I even got, thanks to him a picture with PJ with a Wingnut Wings T-shirt. Back to this interview, the major subject is, of course, the work that was made to turn the Fokker DR. I reality and a dream come true to many WWI modellers. The "under the skin" chapter has some great pictures of an undress Fokker DRI Next, one of my favourite parts: Ronny Bar Profiles!! And several ones, eight to be more precise, and all with a picture or two of the real aircraft. All the profiles are from Ronny Bar. Now, the reader is bring back to modelling with Ray Rimmel upgrading a 1:32 Roden Fokker DRI with several scratch building, and display in the top of a railway wagon. The article is to be concluded in the second volume) A marvelous modeling article comes next: Fokker DR.I 425/17. Ray immerse in building this iconic plane from the Mengnut Fokker Dr.I, and as many, we assume that it could be straight from the box… ahhh, looks like not, and if you want be totally accurate, you will have to get this book!! The next article contains several amazing pictures with more the 100 years and in very very good condition with tons of history and details. Finally, two appendix are given with tons of information with productions changes and recommended reading. Conclusion: A fantastic book for historians and for modeler, with great pics with amazing quality and very inspirational. If you have a Fokker DR.I in your stash or you want to get a Fokker DR.I (the new Meng one or Roden ones) this book is a must have. If you`re not a WWI modeler but a WWI lover/liker, this is a must have!! Worth every penny. Very Highly recommend. My sincere thanks to Ray Rimmel and Windsock for the opportunity and the review sample.
  2. 1:32 Fokker Dr. I/F.1 (Early and Late type) Meng (Ex-Wingnut Wings) Kit No. QS-02 Available from Ak-Interactive for €59,95. Well, there it is… the Meng Fokker Dr. I. The box has its fair size, well packed with plastic and in the side with some profiles and information. I confess that this review and this release is a bittersweet for me, as I have been a WnW Fan since day one… since April of 2010. Personaly, Wingnut Wings gave me a lot… new knowledge, a new modelling perspective and an all new modelling world. Also gave me friends, very good ones from across the world and literally from the other side of the world. So WnW dismiss in 2020 shocked the modelling world. There were several WnW projects that probably will never see daylight (Lancaster, 0/400, 0/100), but one did: The Fokker Dr.I. The test shots in Scale Model World 2019 (held in Telford) were pretty much the final test shots and the model looked fantastic. Wingnut was preparing to release two boxes with the Fokker F.I/ Dr.I (early type) and the Dr. I (late Type) and the web page still on (at least for one of them) http://www.wingnutwings.com/ww/product?productid=3205 At Telford, the test-shots could be the final ones or not… Richard Alexander was a perfectionist so I really don’t now if he was not totally satisfied with it… well probably we will never know. One thing I know for a fact: The only sprue in this box that wasn’t design by Darren Mildhenhall was the sprue E (Engine). So let`s start with the engine. The original engine was tooled in Korea in the same place that were tooled the Camel so Meng had to do an all new engine for this Fokker Dr.I And the sprue design was different. Check the differences: The original WnW engine: Meng engine: Checking close this sprue, the details are well represented and very sharp. One thing that caught my attenttion in the attachment point between the parts and the sprue… WnW moulding strategy is different with less attachements points making a bit easier the removal and making less risk the detail damage. Anyway it´s mould option but shows how WnW was a totally modeller friendly. Anyway Meng gives two type of engines: Le Rhone 9J (Part E1) Oberursel UR.II (Part E7). Fokker Dr.I, on field sometimes were powerfull with the Le Rhone engine and also with the Clerget 9b engine. Curious is the fact that the propeller given, in the WnW sprue, you get 3 propeller types for each engine, so yes, there`s the propeller for the Clerget engine if you want to build a Dr.I with a Clerget engine. I assume, that WnW would have provide all 3 engines (I`m almost certain of this as WnW already had a Clerget engine for the Camel) and markings option for all 3 engines. But that`s only speculation now… Cheking other sprues and knowing that there were several cases report of damage, specialy the cockpit fairing moulded with the middle wing, I found out that my example is totally intact. Thanks AK-Interactive for the nice and very protective package that assure that all remain intact to the customer. Here`s the remaning sprues: There`s not much more to say about the plastic sprues. The wings do have a seam line on the wing edge that could not be quite an easy task to remove it but doable. The wings do have more attaching point that other WnW models, but the wing is quite stick and heavy and that the explanation (given By Richard Alexander himself). The plastic quality looks very good and with nice surface details and with construction strategy well defined, being well patented the WnW fingertip left here. I only notice a bit (incomprehensible) flash on the aileron edge... Checking all the options given in this box, you got 3 cowlings to use (One specific for the Red Baron, on for the Werner Voss F.1 Prototype and another for the Göring and Göttsch airplanes.) I will only highlight, as for sprues are concerne, the sprue F. Being a prototype, the Fokker F.I (fitted with a Le Rhone engine) has several differences and are all concentrated in the sprue F. So the ailerons are in different shape and much wider with larger mass balances, a different shape rudder, curve edged tailplane, smaller wheels, and a different cowling. So the parts engineering, the sprue study and part display (for example the option for the LMG08/15 machine guns with PE or in injection), it’s without a question a Wingnut Wings Model. But that`s all, as nothing more even assemble to a Wingnut Wings model. It`s probably one of Meng best model kits but they still have a long way to go to match Wingnut Wings. However, there`s only one particularly point that this Meng model is superior to WnW model, The Photo-etched sheet. Yes, it has the classical WnW configuration, was design by WnW (with seatbelts, buckles, covers and cooling jackets of the twin Spandau MG08/15 8mm), flawless surface details but Meng did it without connections points to the sheet turning the removal way more simple and practical with no cutting and sanding. So, in this particulary aspect, Kudos to Meng. But, let`s check all the box contents. Starting for the decals. The sheet brings you the instruments dials, several balkenkreuz for the 4 scheme options and the numbers for he Dr.I and F.I Voss but remember that, as the engine, the decal sheet was design by WnW. Schemes given, I think that are good ones but with no surprise. A Jagdgeschwader (JG) I, #425/17 (Freiherr von Richthofen, Manfred Albrecht) 1 March 1918. B Jagdstaffel (Jasta) 10 103/17 (Leutnant Werner Voss) September 1917. Werner Voss C Jagdstaffel (Jasta) 27 206/17 (Oberleutnant Hermann Göring) D Jagdstaffel (Jasta) 19 202/17 (Leutnant Walter Göttsch) 1 February 1918. The decals do have a good colour registration but I do have two little thing that I must say: First, the decals looks a bit stick and not as thin I was used to with Cartograph but they can do work just fine. Secondly, Werner Voss Fokker F.I face looks a bit off, specially those eyebrows… Look at these pictures: Different faces no?? And the million question: That color cowling… Its dark olive or yellow?? I`m not going down that road on this review that’s for sure! I know that I probably will be using WnW decals available on the 32601 Alb. D.V MvR with a Dr.I 127/17 or a Montex scheme. Or even Goering Dr.I. Now, inside along with the instruction, theres some A4 paper sheets in English and mostly in Chinese with information about the Dr.I, Manfred Van Richthofen, and maybe other info. I keep under what the use of this… really… I can`t see any use from it... Instead that could put a better effort in the instruction, with historical detail on it as we were use to… Moving along to the instruction. Anyone who have a Wingnut Wings model kit know that WnW set the bar way up with their instructions. Meng`s Fokker Dr.I instructions are not bad… its such a normal instructions that we, WnW Fans can`t be happy with… No history data, no historical and actual pictures of the plane, no historial information of the chosen schemes, no identification of the parts with the full name, no identification of the team behind each project…. So it`s plain and simple instruction with good part indication and where to they attach in An A3 size coloured instruction booklet of nineteen simple steps and twenty pages. However there`s one thing that Meng just forgot: Rigging… We all know that Fokker Dr.I is not knowed for its rigging but it does have rigging.. Meng does not make any whatsoever reference to the rigging (even when the plastic parts have hole to being made either is Dr.I or F.I. So is incomphensive that lacking of information or rigging drawings. The Fokker Dr.I had visible rigging in front of the cockpit, undercarriage, and in the tail Another point that is not wrong but I think that could be better: color indication. You only get AK and another brand (not knowed to me). The code colour directs you to Meng color, made by AK to Meng. I understadn why Meng made this direct reference to thier "own" paints but I do love theReal Color and the 3rd acrylics generation from AK and I would be delighted to see them on the color chart. Verdict Well, it’s a great model kit but one thing is for sure: it ain`t a Wingnut Wings Model! It sure is a really nice Meng kit, probably their best one but it`s not a Wingnut With care and some good references for the rigging and the colours, it will turn into the Best Fokker Dr.I (F.I) in any scale that you can get, that’s for sure, and that`s is the beauty of this models, and the last legacy left by Wingnut Wings. Highly recommended. My sincere thanks to AK-Interactive for this review sample. Francisco Guedes
  3. Just spotted, that Meng announced an 1/32 Fokker DR.I. The kit seem to have options for a F.1, a DR.I early or late. It's new tooling and includes some PE. http://www.meng-model.com/en/contents/59/290.html Cheers Rob
  4. Hello everybody. The Caterpillar D9 heavy bulldozer in scale 1:35. Based on the fantastic kit of the armored Bulldozer of Meng Models. Several parts replaced, made new or modified. Plus metal tracks, etched parts, new decals, lights, .... I hope that you like it! Cheers Micha
  5. Ok, here's my entry into the GB. I'm almost done the Dingo so will diving right into this Here's the scheme I'm going for. Best part is there's no OVM tools. I hate doing all those little clasps.
  6. Straswudje tovaritch (should be something like hello comrade), If you are tired of rivet counting, if you have forgotten which RLM-colors are needed for the tunesian scheme of your Würger, if your eyes are burning, because you are researching in books and the internet until the winter is over, if you are tired of multi piece single track links for your armour, if PE-bending gives you the spooks, if you get an alergic reaction because of cement fumes you might encounter your personal MODELLING BURNOUT And mostly there is one reason why this is happening. About all these huge, big, medium and small sized subjects we are forgetting to have FUN After letting the Future on my actual TA-152 build dry for decaling (nearly all the above mentioned subjects except the track thing), I dicovered a little box in my stash which I purchased a while ago out of pure curiosity. Could that be where the fun is in, dunno, let's open the lid. Arghs no lid, it's opening on the sides Revell style, bad thing, bad start. On the other hand, the box looks great, even stylish. It's the Meng offering WWT-004, a KV-2 Soviet Heavy Tank in the scale, hey wait a moment, no scale mentioned, bad thing again, where should I put that here in LSM? And this was where my fun part started to ignite. I tried to imagine what I could do with that little fellow and be warned, if everything works out, I will put the KV in a 1/35 Dio (shocking) and this will make it LS for the M. I will not tell you now where this little heavyweigt will show up, except you can convince me to tell. I tried to make a thorough review, but while I was counting parts (no idea how many, maybe 60) and looking for flash and other polyethylene lowlifes, I had the green minimonster already built. So forget about the sprue shots. The manual is beautifully layouted and is parted in eight steps and leaves nothing unsaid. There is even a colour chart and a sprue layout enclosed. Decals (no kidding) are in perfect register and tonal balance and you even go multimedia with this one, because there are looped rubber tracks (no glueing required) and polycaps. Leave your cement closed for the other parts as well because you will not need it here, everything snaps in place and I loved that, because it is so easy to paint an weather with all the details removeable. After about an hour I had this little Russian cube with gun and tracks finished and had a big smile in my face and actually had FUN. Everything fitted perfectly and I never thought about checking references, but it might be only a short span of time, when the usual suspect like ABER, EDUARD or VOYAGER will spoil everything with a heavy dose of PE and Resin. Verdict: The good: - snap fit - good fit - nice engineering (you can de-assemble everything and have all the fun again without sprue cutting, not to mention easy weathering) - coolness factor - takes only one hour of your pecious time The bad: - there are no Friuls out there to substitute the rubber tracks - two part barrel and no Aluminum substitute - takes only one hour of your pecious time The ugly: - I haven't got another one of the series - I'm still thinking about 4BO green and a faded whitewash So is this little thing something for you? For me it's an Absolut recommendation for fun sake P.S. No Vodka was harmed through that review, i swear, honestly Cheers Rob
  7. Its time for my clubs annual Build the Same Kit competition, and the Armour subject is Meng's Panther Family. Which works out great as it ties in nicely with the GB here! Meng's fantastic Panther Ausf. D kit built as '219' of I./SS-Pz.Rgt 12 in Fonteny-le-Pesnil area of Normandy sometime between 9-11 June 1944. Huge thanks to Sam Dwyer, who has been more than helpful, pointing me in the right directions and the discussion in 219 ridge-less zimmerit. Zimmerit was added by using Tamiya's Polyester 2 part putty, slapped with an old toothbrush. The tracks are MasterClub, and Meng's Suspension kit has been used, which will help to get that weighted sit once a base is made for it. Still have a few tools, cables and chains to fit, and chipping of some zimmerit areas. But it's getting closer to paint. Ba'sz Photo collage of '219' on Flickr - https://flic.kr/p/rqgrMY
  8. Hola Senhoras e Senhores, this nasty little rocket powered beast will be my lazy summer build. Between surfing and mountainbiking, lots of swimming and gardening there are only little amounts of time and only place for a little bird with not too much extras included. The Komet or Kraftei or whatever names where found for this pocket rocket was always a subject of fascination to me, because of it’s radical design and raw power for the short rocket burst it was able to produce out of an obscure reaction between the T-Stoff and C-Stoff fuel components. When MENG released their kit some years ago I had to purchase one and what’s in the box looks promising in detail and engineering. I added some AM stuff like the EDUARD interior set and some Barracuda wheels Because I wanted a quick build and I want to show the Komet’s pure shape, I decieded against detailing the rocket engine and close up the bird permanently. The interesting appearance of the captured ME-163b which was flown by Eric Brown in 1945 caught my eye and kept my hooked. The combination of camo and bright yellow belly is somehow funky. The pictures of the first steps look a little crude, but that will get better with more advancements. The cockpit needed a lot of surgery to replace parts with more refined PE parts. Next steps will be priming, yeah, good old stinkin’ Tamiya rattle can stuff, and then some RLM-66 mixed to fit the printed PE. Cheers Rob
  9. Hi all, Its been a while. New job, new challenge, less free time. So, I finally finished off the MENG 1/35 M2A3 Bradley. Its the one from my WIP. Its mostly painted with Vallejo with lots of MiG and Ammo washes and Pigments used. I love a bit of weathering so I went to town on this one. Its waiting for some figures to arrive, for me to find suitable material for the aerials (any ideas welcome) and for some sort of diorama base to put it on. Anyway less words more pictures. Enjoy and as usual constructive criticism is very much appreciated.
  10. Something new by me...
  11. 1:32 Me 163B interior and masks Eduard Catalogue # See article for code and price Available from Eduard Do you ever build a model as soon as it's released, and then just wish you'd waited a little while to see what aftermarket sets would be released. You knew there would be some, but impatience takes over. That's exactly how I felt when I recently built the Komet for Tamiya Model Magazine International (to be published March 2014), especially considering that the base kit lacks in detail in a good number of areas. Eduard to the rescue with these new sets that have been sent for review. The exterior set will follow in our next samples package. Now, I'm pleased I have another Komet in stash... The sets that Eduard have sent to us are: #32802, Me 163B interior, 22,95 € #33130, Me 163B interior ZOOM, 18,75 € #JX161, Me 163B masks, 9,95 € Essentially, the Zoom set is a cut down, and cut price version of the full detail set, but tackling on certain, key elements of the main set. We'll come to that in a moment. All of these sets are packaged into the standard Eduard re-sealable thin sleeve. #32802, Me 163B interior Meng's Komet cockpit is pretty deficient in many key areas of detail. There was simply no excuse in missing out the amount of key detail that can be seen in just about every photograph and drawing you see on Google. When I built mine, I had to address a number of basic omissions in the kit, but thankfully Eduard have tackled every single one of those, plus the things which I simply hadn't got the time or inclination to sort myself. The rear cockpit bulkhead is pretty bad in terms of accuracy or scale, and it will take a lot of determination to put this right without an aftermarket set. Thankfully, this set doesn't shy away from fixing this poor area of the kit. You'll need to do some major surgery to remove the moulded plastic structures first though. With the plastic gone, you can now install an entirely new seat framework, complete with the various fine girder sections and seat installation rails. Of course, a seat is also included, produced in two parts, and including a set of belts to replace the poor ones supplied in the kit. Bulkhead detail also includes the rather obvious control surface linkages that protrude from this area and into the wing roots. If you thought the bulkhead needed work, then the same can certainly be said of the cockpit floor and side consoles. An entire photo etch floor is supplied to fit over the plastic one which is pretty much devoid of detail. Another strange anomaly in the kit, but thankfully corrected here are the side console straps. The consoles were actually fuel tanks, and they they were secured with fabric straps; 2 vertically and 1 horizontally. Strangely enough, Meng didn't include the horizontal on in their moulded detail, so Eduard have included entirely new sets for here. You will of course have to remove the moulded detail for the ones they did include though. There is also extra detail to add to the console avionics units, by means of coloured photo etch, and other parts. This level of detail also spills onto the separate inner cockpit sidewalls whose detail is more or less replaced with PE alternative parts. Having built this kit, I can say that this new detail is 100% worth the effort it will take in removing original detail and fitting this. Other internal cockpit detail includes the rudder pedals, control column wiring, gun sight and mounting deck, and the small canopy opening handle. Eduard are well known for their instrument panel parts too, and the same is included here. The kit dies actually give the option for either a moulded plastic IP, or a simple plastic base with PE parts, but of course, these aren't coloured, unlike these from Eduard. When it comes to making my next Komet, I'll use this version as it's a massive improvement over what is offered in the kit. The IP is produced from a layer with printed instruments which is overlaid with the instrument panel fascia. The effect does look very good. Oddly enough, there is no detail for the engine in this set, so assume it might be in the exterior set, but there are two more parts included here in colour PE, or should I more correctly say 'two alternatives of two coloured parts'? These related to the ammunition saddle, and are an indication of the ammunition used in this, dependent on whether you use the MK108's or MG 151 option. #33130, Me 163B interior ZOOM As mentioned, this is a cut down version of the previous set, with only the colour fret included. It is worth mentioning here that the colour frets in both this and the set above are SELF-ADHESIVE too. #JX161, Me 163B masks Another set I wish I'd had when I built my first Komet. This includes masks for the main canopy, rear external windows, and also the internal, armoured quarter-light windows which sit in the pilot's rear bulkhead. The main canopy mask is provided as an external outline only, with the suggestion you use masking fluid to fill in the centre. DON'T do this if you use Klear or similar for your canopies, as they WILL fog in reaction to the latex/ammonia. Instead, use scrap pieces of mask sheet to infill. Instructions All three sets have clear and concise instructions, with any surgery required, readily illustrated and easy to follow. Conclusion Eduard have done as good a job with this as they did with their set for the old Hasegawa kit, but of course the base Meng kit is infinitely superior to the Hasegawa one, so this set can onl go a long way to produce the very best Me 132 in 1:32 scale. Some scraping and hacking will be needed in that cockpit, so I wouldn't recommend this for an absolute beginner. Detail levels supplied are perfect in order to fix what Meng decided, in their wisdom, to leave out. The only things not included are two fuel lines running from the consoles to the rear bulkhead. Just get some lead wire out, and the job's a good 'un, as we say in this part of the UK. Very highly recommended James H Our sincere thanks to Eduard for the review samples seen here. To purchase directly, click the links in the review. Consider joining Eduard's Bunny Fighter Club programme for extra discounts on your purchases.
  12. Hi all, I know I shouldn't start yet another build, but after opening the box on this kit, it got the better of me. I rummaged through old spares boxes I found some PK Tinyland Luftwaffe hatches, CMK cockpit, Eduard exterior and interior, Master Barrels, Aeromaster decals and MDC mk108's. It's not that this kit needs much, BUT with all this stuff lying around AND me never touching the Hasegawa kits in the stash anymore, I thought I'd see what can be used. I haven't decided on a scheme yet, other than that it will not be the red Wolfgang Späte plane. I made a small start by cutting out some access hatches in the fuselage. Added a PE flange in the opening. The doors will be suspended by a chord from the opening.
  13. Hi all, Here's my finished Me163B-1a in RAF colors. Based on these references: http://robdebie.home.xs4all.nl/me163/vf241.htm In reality this particular captured example had it's MK108 cannons removed and also it's rocket engine. However: at what point this happened isn't to be found. This plane was being towed and tested as a glider. I used the Hasegawa Eduard PE set to spice things up. As all these parts seem to fit this kit really well, I can really recommend it. Also used the Master models pitot tube and added some missing details. All can be found here: http://forum.largescalemodeller.com/topic/1510-132-rocket-science-me-163-meng/ Here are the pics:
  14. I've received some real aggravation recently about posting this build up here, so I caved in.... I'm building this one as another bare wood and metal machine. The Meng kit is superbly engineered with some very innovative touches. There are a couple of things let it down, and one of those is the cockpit. There are a myriad of things not included, in there in terms of parts and detail. There are fuel tank (console) straps missing, levers and switches missing, as well as absent fuel piping, floor detail and numerous other things. The back bulkhead is also very simplistic. I added the missing strap to the fuel tank consoles, and gave them the extruded rubber texture by softening the plastic with Tamiya Extra Thin and then dragging a stiff, flat paintbrush over them. So many more hours could have been spent in adding more detail, but time isn't something I have here (magazine work), so I added some strut to the rear bulkhead, lead wire for fuel pipes, and some of the excellent Airscale placards. I opted to use the plastic and PE instrument panel option, and each of those gauges was a separate decal! I don't know why Meng didn't print them as two decals which covered the whole panel. Another bad design as I had to align every one roughly, pop the PE on, and position properly....remove the PE and then bed the decal down. Tedious. The second bad design of this kit is the horrible wing joint seam that can be seen inside the gun bays. It really is shite. I spent a lot of time making a template for this area so I could blank the seam with plasticard, and add some strut detail. I painted this with Alclad and added some random red patches (primer) that you can see in Martin's excellent walkaround images in our gallery. Extra wiring detail was also added to the guns. The rear internal tail section has MDC Duralumin decals added, so give a little interest. Tedious to add, but looks far nicer... Don't let my comments put you off this one. It's a great kit, and I have another TWO on order!
  15. 1/35 French FT-17 Light Tank (Cast Turret) Meng Catalogue # TS-008 Available from Hobby Link Japan for 5,760¥ Whilst Meng call this the FT-17 Tank, this vehicle is more accurately referred to as the French FT tank. Whilst not exactly a spectacular vehicle it does have some very prominent "claims to fame". It was the first production tank to feature the general layout that we are so familiar with today namely, main armament in a rotating turret, driver in the front hull, and rear mounted engine. With upwards of 3000 of these light tanks produced this was the first volume produced tank and ended up serving with 27 different nations. Initially produced late in the First World War, these reliable, versatile vehicles served right through to the Second World War, albeit not in anything like front-line roles. Personally I love these early AFVs. They have a certain "riveting" charm, and quirkness that is really appealing. With almost a penny-farthing like wheel arrangement, slender hull, and exterior track and wheels this is a real character. Given its light weight and large track area, I suspect soft ground was not an issue for these beauties. Meng's FT-17 comes packaged in a small but beautifully presented top-opening box. The box art is very nice with the lid having a nice matte finish that is reminiscent of Wingnut Wings. The sides of the lid have side profiles of two of four colour schemes as well as a cutaway side profile showing the comprehensive interior that is provided with the kit. Despite its diminutive size, Meng's FT-17 packs a lot of detail. The styrene components are provided on 10 tan sprues, all of which are individually wrapped apart from two that are duplicated. There is also a small photoetch fret, small decal sheet, a separate bag of individual track links, plus eight metal parts. The total parts count is 432, so this is not going to be a quick build, unless you decide to close up the lovely interior. SPRUE A The first sprue contains the hull sides, forward floor, turret base, pioneer tools and several hatches and covers. The hull sides each have three small pin marks on their inner face, but these are either covered with other parts or in positions that simply cannot be seen. As with all the other parts there is zero flash and the finest of mould seams. Moulding looks very nice and the sprue attachment points are small. This is looking very positive! The following two photos show the hull sides and the forward inner floor. SPRUE B This contains the base of the hull, the unhitching frame, some of the turret interior including the main gun breech, plus several of the hatches in the hull. The moulding on the latter is especially noteworthy as they have no marks whatsoever on them to spoil the cleanly moulded internal detail. They are obviously designed for either open or closed hatches without the need for the modeller to remove those annoying ejector pin marks. SPRUE C This sprue is primarily comprised of the long covers over the road wheel assemblies plus the accessory Hotchkiss machine gun (if it is not used as the armament). Nine of the parts are slide moulded and all the parts are very clean. The two outer panels for the road wheel assemblies feature the cast Renault oval plate. These are perfectly cast and legible under magnification. These have to be seen to be believed they are tiny! SPRUE D (2x) This sprue contains the two types of idler wheels (metal and wood), the rear drive wheels, plus mounting plates for the road wheels, and several other parts. The wooden idler wheels have the woodgrain moulded onto them and look fine. Once again both the idler and drive wheels are devoid of any ejector pin marks. SPRUE E (2x) These two sprues carry the road wheels, the return rollers, and the forward supports for the return roller frames. This whole sprue is produced via slide moulds which allows both the road wheels and return rollers to be accurately moulded as single parts despite being quite complex in shape. The attachment points for the parts on the sprues are cleverly placed on the rear raised ring of the wheels which makes cleanup both quick and simple. This is shown in the photo below. SPRUE F This sprue is primarily concerned with the very nicely detailed transmission and engine sub-assemblies. Once again everything is beautifully done right down to a separate part for the eight individual valve springs for the four cylinder side-valve motor. A little bit of wiring for the spark plug leads and the engine and transmission compartment will be complete. With close to sixty parts, this is one area that you do not want to cover up! Also included in this sprue are the ammunition racks for the 37mm main gun. Note there are different main gun and ammunition racks options depending upon which scheme you decide upon so be careful. SPRUE G This contains the machine gun ammunition racks, the individual rounds of 37mm ammunition for the turret ammunition rack plus some additional motor and transmission parts. There are ejector nodes on some of the smaller parts that will require some care to remove to avoid damaging the parts. However, nothing that a sharp blade could not handle. SPRUE J This contains most of the turret parts including the very clever one-piece turret. The sprue itself looks odd, with the small turret in the middle of what looks like a big empty space. This however, has been designed this way to allow the turret to be produced by slide moulds. The moulding is superb with clean rivets and even the casting marks for the casting foundry. There is a faint seam just below the top of the turret. This is the casting seam and should not be removed. The base of the turret is a separate piece and the join with the upper turret coincides with another casting seam. This is smart modelling. OVERALL ASSESSMENT Absolutely fantastic with clever engineering and exceptionally clean moulding. Zero flash, small attachment points to the sprues, and smart use of slide moulding as already mentioned. It is obvious that Meng understand what modellers want and don't want. Small features like having all the hatches that can be portrayed open being devoid of any ejector pin marks is testament to that. This is "State of the Art" in every sense. PHOTOETCH The small fret comprises 10 parts. Four are straps for the pioneer tools, one engine louver, a large sling that the gunner sits on in the turret, plus four identical parts that I cannot see any reference to in the instructions. That however, is not conclusive evidence that they are not there! TRACK LINKS The individual track links come in a separate bag and are ready to use apart from a very small extrusion mark on the outside face of each link. Some of these marks are raised and can easily be removed with 600 grade sandpaper, but some are sunken and will require filling and sanding. Looking at reference photos I cannot see this mark on any actual vehicle however, in saying that, the FT-17 at Bovington does display a similar positioned mark on some of its tracks. You could sort them and put the "worst" ones on the bottom. Please bear in mind there are only 32 links per side so despite being a small vehicle, the tracks are reasonably large and there are not many of them. Once this mark has been removed, the tracks simply click into each other and are both fully workable and robust. The track links themselves are slide moulded and the detail is simply stunning. The larger Takom FT-17 uses 3 parts per link, but Meng only uses a single part to achieve the same result. To my eye the thickness of the face of the track looks right. DECALS The small decal sheet is printed by Cartograph so the decals themselves are thin and sharp. The decals have a matt finish rather than the more typical gloss. Schemes are provided for four different vehicles: French 4th Platoon, 1st Company, 29th Tank Battalion, May 1940. French 1st Company, 2nd battalion, "Le Tigre" Regiment during WW1. Finnish 2nd Tank Company, February 1940. German Luftwaffe in France summer 1944. Full colour side profiles are provided for all the schemes with colour references only for Vallejo paints provided. Full side views as well as plan views of the multicolour schemes would have been helpful. All four schemes are interesting, but the WWI French and WW2 Finnish schemes are especially attractive. METAL PARTS There are eight additional metal parts comprising two large and two small springs for the suspension, two metal axles for the return rollers, and two cast white metal struts for the large suspension springs. The latter are perfectly cast. INSTRUCTIONS This takes the form of a 20 plus page booklet. There is a reasonably detailed history of the vehicle in English, Russian, Japanese, and Chinese. Assembly itself is covered in 23 steps each being clear and well laid out. Finally there is a numbered sprue map followed by full colour side profiles of the four schemes. The colours are described in the four languages and whilst a tiny "colour chip" is provided the only paint references are for Vallejo. Conclusion Having already purchased Meng's big Tortoise tank, I was expecting the same quality with the FT-17. But this is not the case, the FT-17 is significantly better! It is absolutely stunning and close to modelling perfection. In my mind this is a competition winner straight out of the box. I cannot wait to see if it goes together as good as it looks. VERY highly recommended Bruce A Our sincere thanks to Hobby Link Japan for the review sample used here. To purchase directly, click THIS link.
  16. 1:32 Messerschmitt Me 163B Meng Catalogue # QS-001 Available from Hannants for £44.99 Messerschmitt's Me 163 Komet was designed as a point-defence interceptor, designed to lay at rest in various locales around the Third Reich, and then to zip almost vertically towards bomber streams as they approached. The simply astounding rate of climb of this diminutive aircraft enabled the bomber streams to be almost overhead before the Komet had to actually take off. That same speed advantage became very much a disadvantage in combat, with the Me 163 frequently overflying its target before it had a chance to open up with its wing root mounted MK108 cannon. Designed by Alexander Lippisch, the tailless Komet was soon seen to be pretty ineffective as a fighter aircraft due to its limited flight time, relatively high speed, and resultant wide turning circles. The Komet first flew in 1941, although it didn't see operational status with the 'B' variant, until almost mid-1944. Powered by a Walther HWK 109-509 liquid-fuel rocket engine, which saw an injection of two fuels into its combustion chamber (T-Stoff and C-Stoff; Hydrogen Peroxide and methanol-hydrazine water mixture), the Komet took off conventionally before ejecting its dolly undercarriage and climbing almost vertically upwards. The aircraft would later return to earth as a glider, and land on a skid which would be deployed under the fuselage centerline. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=fuA2fKHStRw The Komet was a lethal weapon, literally. Most Komet losses were in take-off and landing accidents, with the Komet usually then exploding due to ruptured fuel tanks or the inadvertent mixing of the fuel vapours. It is true that the Komet was a menace for Allied streams, but perhaps more psychologically that due to actual kills. The Komet didn't actually destroy more than a dozen or aircraft, but despite this, further developments were planned and even tested, such as a Komet which could fire upward facing projectiles, triggered with a photocell which detected the bomber's shadow. Further prototypes were also built, with retractable undercarriage. In all, the Komet project was an expensive and dismal failure, and indicative of the wastage of men and materials which the Third Reich seemed to excel in the last 2 years of the war. Well, here it is! Meng's 1:32 Messerschmitt Me 163B Komet. We now finally have something to perhaps replace the now aged Hasegawa kit, which until now, had been the only injection moulded kit of this interceptor that had been available. The Hasegawa has long held out its position and with some work, builds up into a truly gorgeous model of this famous aircraft. But, as that kit needed a generous dollop of resin and PE, plus a total re-scribe in order to bring it up to standard, have Meng finally brought the Komet into the 21st Century? Well, we'll not take a look at this finally. Meng's Me 163B, their first release in 1:32, is packed in a sumptuous, satin-finished box, with a box art image showing the Komet diving away from a B-17 stream, post attack. On top of this, a white sleeve is slid onto the box, containing a cutout of the Komet which cleverly just displays the aircraft. For me, the box art is all part of the kit experience, with good box art certainly being an inspiration for the forthcoming build, and here, Meng excels. Inside the box, the Komet is broken down into SIX sprues, with five of these being in medium grey, one in black, and the last one in clear plastic. Even Zoukei-mura ditched the multi-colour styrene in favour of just grey. I hope Meng follow suit with their releases in future. All sprues are individually bagged, minimizing risk of scuffing or parts being broken from the sprues. Take these sprues out, and I swear you'll have difficulty fitting them back in. I suppose there's only one thing to do then.....build it!. Underneath those sprues, a single decal sheet is to be found in a clear wallet, and two PE frets. Oh, some vinyl tyres too, but we'll come to them later. SPRUE A Looking at the first sprue, you can see that Meng have also followed Hasegawa's lead by moulding the rear fuselage separately to the font, in order for the modeller to display the detailed Walther rocket engine. In fact, that's not the only interior detail present with this kit. Meng have also recreated the fuel tanks and weapons bays. That pretty much buries the old Hasegawa kit, without even looking further. The fuselage isn't just moulded with a separate rear section; the entire wing root it also separate, with the forward wing root being attached to the wing parts, and the rear root being an insert which is to be found on the next sprue. In fact, the whole forward wing root area is a gaping void, into which you fit the underneath fuselage skin, forming the root wall. Onto this of course, you will build the weapons bay. As this kit includes those internal T-Stoff and C-Stoff tanks, the upper forward fuselage is moulded separately, giving the modeller the option to pose this 'open'. The rudder is also moulded separately to the rear fuselage, allowing you freedom to pose this as you wish, as the rudder itself is hinged. As the rear section can be removed, Meng have moulded constructional detail within this area which you will see if you look into the rear shell. In order to fit the two fuselage sections together, a couple of wing root inserts are provided to act as plugs. When you display the parts separated, you just pull the plugs out again. A very nice touch! The nose cone, as with the Hasegawa kit, is also moulded as a separate part. The only similarity here with the Hasegawa kit is that Meng have chosen not to include the detail which would hide behind that cone. There are in fact two slightly different styles of electrical generator impellor on this sprue. You will also find the canopy framing (yes, no pesky masking to do!), wing slats, interior fuselage panels, whip aerial and keel. SPRUE B This sprue contains the 4 largest parts of the Komet, namely the upper and lower wing panels. Moulded in grey styrene, these incorporate the wing root fairing into which the upper panels have the gun bay access panels in an open attitude. Underneath the wings, the ejection chute openings are also open. There isn't much overall detail on the Komet wing, as these were mostly wooden, but the access posts are cleanly scribed, and the wing root fairings have excellent fastener detail. Meng have chosen to make the ailerons and elevons separate too (and moveable), as also with the large plate airbrakes which sit below the wing. These are supplies as photo etch parts. SPRUE C Essentially, this sprue carries a mish-mash of both interior and exterior parts, including rudder, ailerons and elevons, inner wing root fuselage walls (gun bay walls), external fuel tank covers, gun bay covers, and two different ammunition saddles, depending on whether your model will be fitted with MK108 or MG151/20 weapons. You will also find the ammunition belts here too, moulded separately from the saddle. SPRUE D Oddly enough, this sprue is moulded in black styrene. The remit of this sprue is clear. On here, you will find the extendable tail wheel parts, the retractable landing skid, and also the jettisonable dolly undercarriage. The Komet can be modelled with the skid in both a retracted or deployed state. The tailwheel assembly is also moulded here, and again you can choose from a retracted or deployed tailwheel, and options are included to build this with a fairing or without. Wheel hubs are moulded as an inner and outer plate, into which you'll insert a poly cap in order that the dolly axel can grip, whilst allowing free rotation. SPRUE E Another grey sprue, this time we have many internal parts here, including the superbly detailed cockpit. The cockpit parts here are the actual tub, with integral side console fuel tanks, rear bulkhead, detailed separate side walls, and two instrument panel options. These provide for a fully detailed panel, or a plainer panel onto which you'll assemble a number of photo etch panel parts. The cockpit detail is superb, although our reference material at Large Scale Modeller, does perhaps show that a little extra detail could be added within, such as pipework and push/pull handles and levers. The Eduard set might just have a few parts you can use to enhance this further. Displaying the Komet with the engine on show means you will need to find a way of supporting the parts, and Meng have included a stand to hold the rocket pipe up, and a cradle for the rear fuselage. Both MK108 and MG151 armament in included here, with slide moulding employed in order to make those gun muzzles hollow. The guns and muzzle aperture are very finely defined, and they look excellent. Meng have tackled the armoured windscreen by moulding the frame exterior separately to the actual glass panels. Nice touch. SPRUE F This sprue contains the very large T-Stoff tank which sits to the rear of the pilot. Meng have split this into an upper and lower half, with circular end caps. The Walter rocket engine parts are on this sprue also, and the detail here is superb, leaving the old Hasegawa kit very much in the shade. A good number of individual plumbing pipes are included, and these look a little fiddly to line up and pipe the engine, but I suppose the proof of the pudding will be on the eating. I'll be starting this kit shortly, and I'll find out. SPRUE G This is the clear sprue, and includes TEN parts. Meng have seen fit to also encapsulate the sprue in a slightly tacky film in order to protect it. I wish more manufacturers would do this. These include the canopy glazing, inner and outer armoured windscreen plates, quarter-light windows, and the small inner, rear cockpit windows. You'll also find the gun-sight and wing landing lights here too. The whole kit is superbly moulded, with next--to-zero flash, no visible sink marks and with minimal ejector pin marks. A few pin marks can be seen on some parts, but these areas generally aren't visible. PHOTO ETCH TWO PE frets are included with this release. Produced from bare brass, the largest fret contains the wing airbrake, seatbelt parts and fuel tank cover latches. The second fret is exclusively instrument panel sections, comprising the main panel, raised main panel and side panels. Etch quality is superb with excellent detail definition. WHEELS Unusually, Meng have chosen to include rubber/vinyl tyres on this release. Whilst some modellers like these, I don't. The seams can be awkward to remove, as can the sprue gate. Thankfully, seams aren't really too much of an issue here, but I would rather have seen the wheels supplied as plastic parts. The only real downside to this kit for me. Poly caps for the undercarriage are also moulded here. INSTRUCTIONS This kit contains a sumptuously produced, multi-lingual instruction manual, again adorned with that excellent box artwork. A history of the Komet is included within, followed by the kit construction, over 24 cleanly drawn stages. All illustrations are sharp, but take care in the engine stage as some pipework location looks a little ambiguous. Colour scheme illustrations are presented at the end of the manual. Colour call-outs are given throughout, with Vallejo codes being given. DECALS A single decal sheet is included for all THREE schemes available to you. Printed by Cartograf, the decals are thin, have minimal carrier film, and are in perfect register. Thankfully, the colours aren't too vivid also. As well as the various national markings, a full range of stencils are also supplied, as are instrument panel decals. Where markings run over a panel or joint, Meng have supplied these in sections. Swastikas are also included, but these are supplied in parts, so as not to offend any delicate political sensibilities. The three schemes offered are: Me 163B, 2./JG 400, Brandis, early 1945 Me 163B V-41, Major Wolfgang Späte, 13th May, 1944 Me 163B VF241, test flown by Eric Brown, 7th July, 1945 I think I might just build the British evaluation machine, as I once met the pilot who flew that aircraft, Eric 'Winkle' Brown. Me 163 Komet, from Large Scale Modeller 'Walkaround' Conclusion Well, we've certainly waited a few decades for another 1:32 Komet to be released in mainstream injection plastic form, but has it been worth it? A resounding 'YES'! The whole package is of the high quality we have now come to expect with Meng releases, and for their first foray into 1:32, this is an exceptional release, teeming with detail and buildability. It's great to see this aircraft finally released in a format for which you can really respect the architecture of the real thing. With the rear fuselage section removed, you can look into the fuselage of the Komet and see the engine, tanks etc. The detail is both refined and superbly executed, and the engineering is intuitive. Some clever engineering enables you to be able to pose the model split into two, without the need for ugly locating pips. All I can say is 'what a fabulous kit', and I really can't wait to start her. I see myself ordering one of these myself, to satisfy a cunning plan I have ;-) VERY highly recommended Our sincere thanks to Meng Model for the review sample used here. To purchase directly, click THIS link. James H
  17. 1/35 Pickup with ZU-23-2 MENG Catalogue # Velociraptor series VS-004 Introduction With its open cargo bay design, the Pickup is widely used in many conflicts around the globe today. Numerous models see activities not only as military supply carriers but also as light fire support vehicles. They are fitted with machine guns, recoiless guns, rocket launchers or as in this kit with light AA guns. The ZU-23-2 was developed in the 1950's by the Russians. Around 1960 mass production started and it became very popular due to its high firing rate, light weight and low costs. Large export orders were closed with Asia, Africa and Latin America. The ZU-23-2 saw combat in many conflicts and was extensively used in the Middle East, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. The kit carries no reference to the car brand but it obviously is a Toyota. First impressions I was very keen to get my hands on a MENG-kit. I already saw so many good things from them already and I was curious how it would be to see one of these kits up close and personal. I can assure you that this kit won't dissapoint. The box is sturdy and dressed with some beautiful artwork. On the sides of the box two full color illustrations show you the main painting schemes (creme and blue) and you also get the most important specs of the vehicle and the ZU-23-2. The firm box holds 202 plastic parts on 8 sprues. There are four creme colored plastic sprues that are needed for the Pickup body work, one black sprue for the Pickup chassis and two green colored plastic sprues that hold the ZU-23-2. There is a transparent sprue that holds the windows and lights. The truck tyres are vinyl, and although beautifully detailed I'm not to happy about this medium. The tyres of the ZU-23-2 are plastic. There is a small fret with etchings and an even smaller decal sheet with two decals for the dashboard. A beautiful and crystal clear instruction booklet with 35 building steps and some color illustrations for the painting schemes complete the package. The plastic on all sprues looks very sharp en crisp and the detail is impressive. There are some pin marks but not in visible places. The first five steps of the building instructions cover the chassis and axles and although there won't be much to see in the end this part of the build is nicely detailed. Steps 6 to 11 cover the cab. The interior looks superb with some nice seats, a detailed instrument panel and seperate gear shift and parking brake. The cab roof has a rearview mirror and sun visors. The doors are seperate pieces and can be mounted closed or open. The only thing you might want to add are a couple of safety belts. Steps 11 to 20 cover the cargo bay (which is a well detailed and crisp subassembly), steps, bumper and mudflaps on the underside of the car end the wheels. The vinyl tyres are combined with plastic rims and can be pressed on the axles. There are many location points and I don't see any reason to believe that somehow parts may be misaligned or cannot be precisely placed. The instructions are very clear and helpfull! The ZU-23-2 Steps 22 to 35 take you through the build of the ZU-23-2. This is a little jewel of a kit in its own right. The plastic is crisp and nicely detailed. The gun barrels are fitted with impressive flash guards and the kit offers the possibility to fit the barrels in three different positions: horizontal, around 40 degrees up and about 80 degrees up. These are fixed positions so you will have to make a decision here. The ammunition boxes are nicely detailed and the same goes for the seats. The gun base can be attached to a frame of beams that goes on top of the cargo box, and these beams come with the kit. It's also possible to mount the base on road wheels. These are plastic moulds, which for me personally is a much better solution than the vinyl ones that come with the Pickup. In this configuration the ZU-23-2 could also be combined with the Pickup in a towed position. Conclusion Meng has delivered a very nice little kit that is crammed with detail. Straight from the box this is a well detailed Pickup with ZU-23-2 but it's also a great platform for superdetailing. Whatever you do, when it comes to painting this is a very nice canvas with endless possibilities. I'm not overly enthousiastic about the Pickup tyres and would have preferred injection moulded ones. Also the lack of Toyota markings is a bit of a letdown but understandable in the light of copyright costs. Perhaps these are areas in which the aftermarket guys can jump in. All-in all I would rate this kit an 8,5 out of 10. Of course building this kit would really define its quality. In a couple of weeks I will start on this one and do a full build report on the subject. Now that is something I look forward to very much! Highly recommended Jeroen Veen Our sincere thanks to Meng for the review sample.
  18. AMX-30B French Main Battle Tank Meng Model Catalogue # TS-003 Available from Creative Models for £44.99 Meng are not a company to follow everyone else it would seem. Their 1/35 scale releases have included an experimental German WWII minesweeping vehicle, a pseudo Toyota HiLux pick-up truck, and a British super heavy assault tank that came too late to serve before VE Day. And whilst they have also done some more mainstream armour in the Israeli Merkava (IDF does indeed seem 'a la mode'), Cold War French armour is not something that any other mainstream manufacturer has attempted as far as I can recall. The AMX-30 was designed and built in the 1960s, serving with both the French Army and a number of foreign countries into the 1990s. It served in the first Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm), but before you get all in a lather about Norman Schwarzkopf & Co, this was the AMX-30B2: you cannot build this out of the box, and the only conversion is by Azimut for the ancient Heller kit. The AMX-30 looks like a cross between an American M48 and some of the early Russian Cold War tanks – I guess because that's what it is in effect. Nothing particularly ground-breaking here – v-shaped hull, domed turret, rear engine and rear drive sprocket. That being said, I can see the aesthetic appeal. So what do we have in the box? There are seven main sprues, plus a further five for the track links; a small fret of PE; a clear parts sprue for commander's cupola and headlamps etc; a flexible rubber / plastic part for the mantlet cover; some poly caps and a small decal sheet with two schemes. The hull tub is moulded as a single piece, whilst the turret is a two part affair. Sprues are bagged separately and the parts fit fairly well in the box – no DML craziness here. There is a 21 page instruction booklet with clear line drawings – think a mixture of Tamiya and AFV Club – and some colour profiles showing the markings. The parts are moulded in a mid green plastic, and first impressions conjure up images of an AFV Club kit: little or no flash, some very small parts which are extremely delicate, very sharp moulding but plastic perhaps softer than some would like, when compared to Tamiya for instance. Construction will be fairly straightforward and as long as you are happy handling some eminently breakable parts, this is a kit that is fine for most intermediate modellers I think. The suspension will be workable to a degree, although of course you can always glue parts in place if you want it completely fixed. There are both torsion bars and hydraulic shock absorber assemblies which will be moveable. It should be worth leaving the suspension as intended, because the tracks are also designed to be fully articulated. They are moulded on the sprue, so there will be a lot of clipping and snipping, but not that much clean up. Each track link is made up of an inner and outer part, with the inner overlapping two outers. Assembly is made pretty easy by the inclusion of a jig: you simply insert a run of 'outers' (part #B2) - which are not glued together – and then overlay and glue the inner part which has the guide tooth (part #B1). If you are careful, your tracks will be fully workable. Lots of these to cut from the sprues! Laying the outer track pads in the jig provided Inner part overlays the outer pads and is glued; the resultant link will be fully workable These parts were snipped from the sprue and 'assembled' (I have not glued them) with no clean up – fit was excellent The tank does not come with interior, but the turret does have the breach for the main gun. All three guns are moulded in plastic (no turned metal here). The main gun is telescopic, but moulded top and bottom, so careful clean up will be required. The small calibre MG on the commander's cupola looks very neat, and probably doesn't need a replacement, whilst the 20mm co-axial cannon is probably best displayed with muzzle cover on unless you can find suitable aftermarket. Both the commander and driver have vision blocks provided as clear parts, and turret hatches can be displayed open or closed. The turret baskets which adorn either side are probably the most delicate parts, just because they are quite large, but also very thin. Again, clean up will be fiddly but very important here. There are prominent casting marks visible on the turret top, front and back. The rain guard for the gun mantlet is a flexible rubber part which should be conformed to the turret contours and glued. At first I was a bit suspicious of this, but it really is quite 'floppy', so as long as it takes CA glue, there should be no problem. Mantlet with flexible rubber rain guard One of the two turret baskets Main gun tube parts Hull assembly will be pretty simple – there is a main plate plus engine deck. Tools are moulded complete with clamps / tie-downs, but look pretty convincing, and I am sure there will be PE upgrades from the usual suspects if you want extra detail here. Engine deck grills are a combination of PE – which will need some bending – and also plastic parts which have gills moulded crisply and discretely. The small decal sheet provides markings for two schemes, but no meaningful information is given about either. The first is in overall olive drab and I presume a French Army tank; the second a NATO tri-colour scheme in green / brown / black. Markings are generally the weakest point of nearly all manufacturers' offerings, so no real surprises here. It is a bit disappointing though as the rest of the kit seems so good. Conclusion The vast majority of construction will be straightforward, but there are quite a few small parts that will have the carpet monster licking his lips! The tracks will be a test of patience rather than ability. Meng have chosen a slightly off the wall subject, but have done it thoughtfully so that even out of the box you will get a tank that looks great, with no real need for aftermarket (always refreshing). This really looks a very good kit. Highly recommended With thanks to Meng Model for the review sample. Nicholas Mayhew
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