Construction part 1
So I started with the model that had been built up from kit TM-7201 (35-39), which had been finished as ready for painting, so fortunately not all cemented together, and here we see it broken back down into its main assemblies (40-43). I began by adding some of the metal details, starting with the etched radiator sheet (44), an enhancement that will be hidden if you cement the hood down, but there is sufficient detail in the engine compartment to display it open, although it will require a little cleaning work on the underside of the hood.
With the main body flipped over the additional armour plates are added to the underside of the front wheel arches (45, 46). The side profile of these is shown in the instructions, but note that it should not overlap the armour plate of the sides of the vehicles, the edge of which should remain visible in the wheel arch. Here I have already done things the wrong way round, which wouldn’t have happened had I been building the kit from the beginning, in that I have the wrong side amour, from the first kit. Having put sprues back in the box, I didn’t notice this until the new doors didn’t fit… but I’m getting ahead of myself. Moving to the rear arches, more armour plate is added (47). A portion of these metal strips isn’t in contact with anything, spanning across the angled join, so I added extra glue, and then sanded down the excess.
The clear radiator / headlamp component also receives some tiny strips of metal to represent the way the headlamp surround is mounted to the chassis with pressed metal brackets (48), and then a strip of mesh is added the inside of the front grille (49). Continuing the enhancement of the front end, but moving to the bonnet / hood (50), whereas before the slats in the plastic were inset (50A) so that an etched square of louvre could be applied on top, in this kit we are instructed to cut out the plastic entirely (50B). The square of mesh is added from the underside (C) followed by the louvre being added from the top (50D). In the same step 14 (see photo 31) we are instructed to fit part PE3, which is a Combat Identification Panel, a PE square which is scored to be bent into a kind of concertina shape. I made an attempt at bending it, but had no idea how to achieve it, and eventually it broke apart. There is a plastic version of this piece on sprue F, designed I think to hang on a door, perhaps this could be used as a template to shape the PE part.
Either side of the radiator grille on the hood, the two reinforcing plates are applied to the holes through which the lifting rings will protrude (51). In the same photo the transparent outer grille / headlamp unit has been added. Note that the instructions show the inner radiator grille / inner headlamp unit, with the mesh, from photo 49 being assembled together and then added to the chassis later, prior to the hood being attached. The problem I have with that sequence is that the interior of this assembly would need to be painted at this point, as the headlamp inner will be visible through the clear lamp lenses, and the mesh through the main front grille bars. So instead I assembled the clear front grille / lamp unit to the hood, and added the tiny triangles of metal either side (52, 53). The top of the clear front grille has some small ridges that need to be sanded perfectly flat, something that is quite hard to see prior to painting.
Moving to the doors then, each door is made up of seven parts, the inner and outer shell, two glazing panes, two pieces of PE armour and the big external door handle that includes the ring for wrenching damaged doors off (54, 55). Some may prefer to assemble the outer and inner, apply paint, then sandwich them together so that the clear parts needn’t be masked, but I assembled all of them in one go (56, 57). The strip that protects the top of each door has only a small contact point with the plastic, so these were a little tricky to secure. Note that although the plastic includes what appear to be holes for some inset fasteners, there should perhaps also be external bolts, and that the holes on the PE plate should also possibly be bolts instead of holes, so if you wanted to add that sort of detail, now is the time.
The next photo (58) shows the assembly of that corrected upper rear panel, now without the a/c vents. Here we also see a couple of my errors in this build… first, I added the small square of PE armour that covers the vent just in front of the front door, which later fell off, hit the floor and disappeared; worse, this is the side panel from the first kit, me having become distracted with making progress, forgetting that this kit requires the new side panels. This became obvious when I test fitted the doors and found they didn’t fit.
Anyway, moving on, we see other small PE details being added, tie down rings on the front end (59) and towing gear details to the rear end (60). Modelling with PE is not my favourite thing, and not one of my best skills, but I plunged on with constructing the turret armour, first bending it to a box shape (61), then curving in the front edges, folding in the side brackets and adding the rear brackets (62). If you can solder, you’ll do a better job of this than me. Finally the handles are added to the front (63), and these need to be firmly attached, then any external evidence abraded away to a flush finish. Happy to say they didn’t fall off, not even once, but there are two sets provided on the sheet, just in case.