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Tamiya 1/20 scale Williams BMW FW24

Kit: No. 20055
Scale: 1/20
Manufacturer: Tamiya, imported by Tamiya America, 2 Orion, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656-4200, 800-826-4922,
Price: $24.90
Comments: Injection-molded, 172 parts, decals
Pros: Excellent molding, fine detail, separate brake discs and calipers
Cons: Precise alignment necessary to mount bottom pan, plastic seat harness a bit heavy for scale

For the last few Formula One racing seasons, the Williams BMW team has presented the biggest challenge to the champion Ferrari team. In 2002, the Williams team finished second in the constructors championship, and Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher finished third and fourth (respectively) in the drivers points, right behind Ferrari and its drivers.

The 2002 Williams BMW FW24 is the 55th kit in Tamiya's 1/20 scale Grand Prix series. This 172-piece kit comes flawlessly molded in white, black, and clear plastic. It has four excellent rubber tires, three tiny screws, four poly caps, a sheet of copper/silver foil, five metal transfers, and more. The instruction sheet is well laid out and easy to follow, especially the section on painting and decaling the body.

The removable undertray, wheels, and nosecone allow displaying the model stripped down in a pit or garage setting. The kit even includes two pit stands.

Tamiya's Williams is practically troublefree, but it still takes some precise building to get the ultimate results. For example, I failed to get the engine onto the monocoque perfectly square. It was off by only a couple of degrees, but that nearly prevented mounting the undertray, because holes did not match up perfectly for their screws.

The brake assemblies impressed me. Tamiya has devised a system that allows the rotors to turn within the calipers. This adds to the realism, and makes them easier to paint and detail. All of the suspension arms for the car are molded thin, but they are strong and have no problem holding the model's weight.

The wheels are accurate O.Z. racing units, and the tires have the appropriate number of grooves. The markings for the tire sidewalls are supplied as unique dry/ wet transfers that take some care to align perfectly.

The bodywork is broken down the same way as the real car, and the edges of the parts are realistically thin. Tamiya has molded faint guidelines onto the surface of the body to aid in the masking the blue and white sections. I used the recommended Tamiya spray colors, TS-26 pure white and TS-51 racing blue, but I used TS-55 dark blue under the racing blue to make it a bit deeper. Decals are supplied for the silver striping that divides the blue and white, as well as for all the markings on the inside and outside of the model.

The cockpit is relatively simple; many of the fine details are to be painted. The harness is represented by two plastic moldings, but a fabric and photoetched metal set would look better. The cockpit must be assembled and installed before the monocoque halves are glued together and finished, much as an airplane kit. Careful masking keeps the finish coats from getting inside.

When finished, the model looked just right. I recommend it to experienced modelers who want to stretch their skills, yet still build a fine-looking model.

- Mark Melchiore


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