by: Graham Holmes [ ]
The FV432 is the armoured personnel carrier variant of the British Army's FV430 series of armoured fighting vehicles. Since its introduction in the 1960s, it has been the most common variant, being used for transporting infantry on the battlefield. In the 1980s, almost 2,500 vehicles were in use, with around 1,500 now remaining in operation - mostly in supporting arms rather than front-line infantry service.
In the late 1950s, the then GKN Fighting Vehicle Development Division (FVDD) was awarded a contract for the construction of four prototype and 10 trials vehicles of the FV420 unarmoured light tracked vehicle, all of which were delivered by 1958.
Subsequently, GKN's FVDD was awarded the contract for the design and development of the FV432 family of APCs with the first contract covering four prototypes and 13 vehicles for troop trials. In addition, Royal Ordnance (today BAE Systems Land Systems) was awarded a contract to build a further seven troop trials vehicles under GKN's design parentage. All of these vehicles were delivered by 1961.
The FV432 is of all-steel construction. The chassis is a conventional tracked design with the engine at the front and the driving position to the right. Directly behind the driver's position is the vehicle commander's hatch. There is a large round opening in the passenger compartment roof, which has a split/folding (concertina) hatch, and a (right hand) side-hinged door in the rear for loading and unloading. As in many designs of its era, there are no firing ports for the troops carried - British Army doctrine having been for troops to dismount from vehicles to fight, unlike Russian infantry fighting vehicles that largely incorporate ports. The passenger compartment has five seats on either side - these fold up to provide a flat cargo space. Although the FV432 Series was to have been phased out of service in favour of newer vehicles, such as the Warrior and the CVR(T) series, 500 have been upgraded to extend their service into the next decade.
An NBC system is fitted, normal ventilation provided by a fan mounted in the forward right hand side of the vehicle, air being drawn through a paper element filter (mounted externally on the right hand side of the hull), filtered air being distributed by a duct running around the perimeter of the interior at roof level, extending into the driver's compartment. Provision is made to add carbon filters in case of gas attack, and the system can accommodate heaters and/or air conditioning units. A roof-mounted relief valve allows a constant minimal pressure to be maintained and prevent ingress of foreign matter in the event of blast or alterations in external atmospheric pressure.
Wading screens and a trim vane were fitted as standard and an extension provided to elevate the exhaust pipe. The basic vehicle, which could be readied for wading in approximately five minutes, has a water speed of about 6 km/h when converted for swimming and was propelled by its tracks. Most of these vehicles have had their amphibious capability removed.
FV432s in service with infantry battalions are equipped with a pintle-mounted L7 GPMG (if not fitted with the Peak Engineering turret). Vehicles with the Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers and Royal Signals were originally fitted with the L4A4 variant of the Bren light machine gun, but they now use the GPMG. When equipped with the GPMG, the vehicle carries 1,600 rounds of belted 7.62mm ammunition; when carrying the Bren LMG, the vehicle carried 1,400 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition (50 magazines, each holding 28 rounds). There are two three-barrel smoke dischargers at the front. The FV432 has been produced in three major variants, the Mark 1 (with a Mark 1/1 minor variant) with petrol engines, the Mark 2 with a Rolls-Royce K60 multi-fuel engine and the Mark 3 with a diesel engine. The Mark 2 minor variant, the 2/1, has its NBC pack flush with the hull side. An uparmoured variant, for use in Iraq and Afghanistan, of the Mark 3 was known as Bulldog.
Background from Wikipedia and www.army-guide.com
The kit is molded in grey plastic and the overall quality of the molding appears excellent, with sharp details, minimal mold lines and little to no flash. Looking at the sprues it is noticeable that there are large sprue gates on some of the parts that required careful removal during part clean up. However, this was aided by the plastic, which I would describe as Goldilocks plastic, not too hard and not too soft, just right. The plastic cleaned up really nicely and took the small amount of sanding to clean the part perfectly such that no marks were left over. The end result was that parts clean-up was a nice as it can be, not only better than almost all other kits I have made, but better even than other Takom kits I have made. There are some hefty ejector pins but they are all located in out of the way places, with the exception of F-19 on which they were tough to remove.
There are eight grey plastic sprues, one clear sprue, a one piece lower hull, a hull roof, two PE frets, a nice decal set and a jig. In typical Takom tradition the sprues have see through letters for easy ID. Great idea.
Sprue ‘A’ (x2) is the wheels and suspension parts.
Sprue ‘B’ (x2) contains all the duplicate parts that feature throughout the build, batteries, bench seats, tow cables and various storage containers.
Sprue ‘D’ is the link and length tracks, 42 single pieces and 12 longer pieces.
Sprue ‘E’ contains a variety of parts, mostly for the upper hull and rear hull.
Sprue ‘F’ has the hull sides and front, exhaust, GPMG, cupola, and small handles for various hatches.
Sprue ‘G’ contains only interior parts, so this sprue will not feature in any future releases of different FV432 varieties that do not come with an interior.
Sprue ‘H’ is the clear parts, vision blocks, lights etc, and include a number of parts that are not used.
Of the two PE Frets one is for the basket netting sides and the other includes light guards, mud flaps and other covers.
The lower hull tub and roof are each very well moulded, with ample detail.
The decal sheet includes markings for the four different subjects.
The instruction booklet is 16 pages in landscape format, covering 36 clearly illustrated steps with 3D CAD drawings, with a number of the steps being split between two alternative ways of assembling various parts of the model. There are painting for four versions, one unnamed unit in British Army NATO markings, one in Berlin Brigade markings, one in OPFOR markings as used at BATUS and a tan coloured one belonging to the Royal Scots Guards. All of the markings are called out in Ammo by Mig Jimenez paints though they do includes names for cross reference purposes. The last feature is also very welcome, a colour guide to painting the interior in the form of five smaller renderings and one larger one, showing the colours in great detail.
STEPS 1 through 8
Construction begins with the interior. This is very detailed and there are few subjects where this is so worthwhile. So many modern kits include a full or partial interior which is either completely or partially hidden once the kit is complete. Not so with the FV432 in general and this kit specifically with the large roof hatch, drivers hatch and rear door all able to be posed open such that all of the comprehensive interior can be shown off. As this is a review build with no painting I opted to close up all the doors but I still built the full interior and the fit is superb. I particularly liked the engineering of the parts such that detail painting can be accomplished without excessive masking. I will make this model again with a fully completed interior as it is so nice to show off with the open hatches and rear door.
Despite the wealth of detail, assembly is straightforward and went together quite quickly. The instructions are easy to follow with the exception parts G-11 and G-13 which weren’t quite so obvious. Care was needed to make sure that the interior wall (G-34) was well seated and clamped as it can affect the fit of the roof later on. Installing the driver’s seat is a very tight fit.
These steps attach the body sides and the body rear. As well as a storage box on the rear wall.
These steps build the running gear and involves the first use of the Jig. A problem here is that it is the weakest point is the suspension arms. Although there is a semblance of a “key“ on the hull to make sure the arms are at the correct angle, and the provided jig helps them stay in place, I think that this produces a result where the arms are potentially a weak connection. They are virtually a butt joint onto the hull and some sort of lug would have been stronger as well as easier for the modeler. A further note is that you have to glue all five arms in place before you can place the jig and then all the jig does is hold the parts in place whilst the glue dries rather than holding them in place in order to add the glue. Not the most elegant solution but it worked, but only just.
These steps complete the running gear including the tracks. Step 15 has you assemble most of the track run on the jig with the idler wheel and drive sprocket included which you then place on the suspension arms in step 16 and then add in the last two track pieces (D-1). I tried this method on one side, and on the other side I placed the track pieces straight onto the wheels already on the arms. Both methods worked but the Jig method worked better, so kudos to Takom for this. One deviation I suggest is when using the jig do not assemble the return rollers together before placement, but putting on the inner wheel first then the track then the outer wheel.
These steps are the construction of the rear door and mud guards. No issues here and the large open rear door helps show off the interior.
These steps place all the details on the inside of the upper hull, both inside and outside. Whilst there no issue to note here, I decided to leave off parts B12 until the end as they are too fragile whilst there is still a lot of handling to do. The large hatch can be made to be opened or closed and there is no compromise on the fidelity of detail of the hinges. However, this is moot if you add the large cage at the end of the build. In step 23 there is an alternative with either part E-40 or the NBC filter. The problem is that there is no explanation as to what circumstances require which part. The engine screens have exquisitely detailed hinges.
This multistep stage is the construction of the cupola and GPMG. The GPMG is very finely molded and is as good as any resin alternative.
This builds the front glacis plate. Once again, I left parts B12 until the end of the build. In step 28 the lights are put together and the first PE is used, in the form of the light guards. These are glued to the plastic frames then the vertical components are twisted into place. I was very concerned about snapping these, but they are quite sturdy, but once in place look perfect. Very good use of PE by Takom. Plastic could never have looked so good.
This is the step where you put the upper hull and front hull on, though I did not use the same order as the instructions. I felt that the way the instructions assemble this puts some of the more delicate parts in danger of damage, so I left some parts off until the hull was together. An example of this is the light assembly and wing mirrors from step 28. The fit of the top and front are very good and the small gap that I had was my issue, not the fault of the kit.
These steps add in the final hull details and the exhaust. The tow cables require that part B-44 be cut which is a little awkward, indeed I broke one of mine so I left them off till I manufacture a replacement, once again my fault, not the kit.
Assembles the storage basket and puts it on. This is an optional item though that is not clear. This basket is not used on all vehicles so check your references.
This is not my first Takom kit, in fact it is my 13th but only the third one I have completed, and the best yet. It is a great balance of detail and ease of construction. The jig helps with tracks though not so much with the suspension arms.