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AFV Club 1/35 scale Churchill Mk.III

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RELATED TOPICS: ARMOR | MILITARY
Kit: No. AF 35153
Scale: 1/35
Manufacturer: AFV Club, Merit International, 626-912-2212, www.merit-intl.com
Price: $48.99
Comments: Injection-molded, 418 parts (29 photoetched-metal; 22 steel), decals
Pros: New variant; movable suspension parts; build options
Cons: Complex suspension; fit issues; ejector-pin marks on tracks
Issue published:
When I first saw the artwork for AFV Club's Churchill Mk.III at the 2008 AMPS show, its detailed suspension, metal barrel, and overall detail got my attention - and the kit has lived up to its advances with a movable suspension, positionable hatches, metal barrel, clear optical pieces, and markings for three British and one Russian vehicle.

The Churchill has one of the most complicated suspension systems I have ever seen, and AFV Club has done a good job of reproducing it. Assembling the springs over parts D5 and D6, I used a piece of ½" Styrofoam and taped down one half of the pannier (Part C2). I added the spring assemblies to the pannier with T pins to hold the spring assemblies in place, then added the other half of the pannier (Part C1). Tamiya's thin cement was used to glue the halves together.

In Step 4, it was a challenge to get the wheel/mud-scraper assembly in place under the load of the springs. I used clamps and a piece of flat balsa wood to hold it down. Make sure the assembly lines up with the locating tabs on the pannier bottom or it will be offset.

Building the hull up from pieces did not pose any problems. I did use the hull top (Part B25) to ensure vertical alignment of the side panniers.

The periscopes are made from four parts and can be rotated. Hatches are detailed on both sides for either open or closed display.

The vinyl tracks were a bit of a letdown, with ejector-pin marks on their faces; aftermarket individual-link tracks will suit those who want more detail. The instructions make no suggestions for joining the track; I tried different glues, and the only one that did the job goes by the name of Goop. You could sew the ends together and place that section under the track cover. With the track covers being separate pieces, you can choose whether to install all or just a few. There is no definite location for the back top track covers, so I used the two bolt heads in the illustration as a point of reference. This caused a fit issue for the two center pieces (parts B31 and B18). I planned on leaving those pieces off anyway, so it is better to start at the front and work your way back.

Assembly of the turret posed no issues. The hatches can be posed open or closed. They have the same periscopes as those on the hull. The gun barrel does not have the useless recoil feature, so it's a solid mount.

I dithered over the four markings but finally settled on the Soviet Lend-Lease vehicle. I painted it Floquil Pullman green and used Tamiya pastel white for the temporary snow camouflage. The tracks were painted with Tamiya metallic gray (XF-56).

There's a picture of this vehicle on Page 50 of The Eastern Front: Armor Camouflage and Markings, 1941 to 1945, by Steven Zaloga and James Gransen (Arms & Armour), my reference for this review.

I was glad to see this model of the Churchill shown as it fought on the European and African fronts. The kit has a lot of modeling potential, but, because of its complexity, I cannot recommend it to beginners. It took me 30 hours to complete this kit.

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