Construction part 3
Not having felt too optimistic about this build at some moments, I cheered up a little after getting the hood together; with the top louvre back on, the side lights in place, the masking all removed, and a dark wash added, I thought it looked OK (94). The orange side lights worked out better than I had imagined. Notice I missed a moulding line just in front of the groove where the closing strap will go in, showing up clearly in this light.
Pigments were worked into the tyre treads and the chassis (95, 96) and the underside (97) received the same wash (AK Winter Streaking Grime with a little black enamel) in preparation for them being joined. The chassis fits into the upper body tightly, so there is no danger of misaligning it sideways, but the exact contact points are not that obvious, so there is a need correctly line it up longways. In fact the exhaust pipe sits almost exactly against the wheel arch (98). Clearly I have departed from the assembly sequence in the instructions which show the chassis and body joined even before the sides of the body go on.
Flipping it back over, I paid attention to making sure all four wheels made contact with the ground, and I had twisted the chassis a little under a hairdryer before attaching it, to get it flat, and then after assembly some weight was applied while the cement set overnight. Eventually all four wheels were persuaded to sit flat (99, 100). The rear hatch plate attached earlier has been removed, and the interior reflectors for the headlamps have been painted white. Test fitting the hood wasn’t too easy, and this is partly caused by me adding the headlamp component to the hood rather than the chassis, in that the headlamp reflectors have to fit inside the transparent component. As is the case generally with this kit, tolerances are very tight, so parts that fit exactly as bare plastic become harder to fit under a coat of paint. I was also unclear about the attachment point, so where to apply cement, and as a result removed quite a lot of paint for cementing purposes (101), and my wire lifting rings had to be trimmed very short on the inside so as not to interfere. I think the correct point for cement to be applied is actually the top right and left vertical edges of the engine compartment detail.
Final painting and assembly of the turret is shown in photos (102) and (103), also visible is the mess I made of painting the grenade belt feed – made to look worse by this big photo. I managed to make sure the armour was straight on the turret ring, with the mounting brackets providing definite attachment and gluing points. Before the windshield wipers were fitted, their pattern on the window was worked out and cut from masking tape (no pattern for this is included in the instructions, something that would be nice in future…), then a light misting of the body colour was applied (104), the tape removed and the wipers glued in place (105).
The rear hatch plate was put back on top of the paint work, and then the two CREW masts were fitted to the rear (106). If you wanted to use just one of these, but fit a normal radio antenna on the other side, the part for that is in the box, so this is really optional. All that remained was for the turret to be added and then a few final touches, the rubber section of the bonnet strap being painted black, and the mirror surfaces were lazily blocked in with normal pencil graphite.
This is a very nicely detailed kit, with excellent moulding quality and plastic components that fit together very well. As observed earlier, and in my review of T-Model’s first M1114 kit, the tolerances are such that parts align exactly, which is good of course, but it does mean that sometimes parts fit together very tightly, requiring precise assembly. As an example, the applique armour plates behind the rear door appear at first to be very easy to fit, but it took quite a while to work out exactly how to fit the front under the door edge and align the rear correctly with the bodywork, and then where to apply cement.
I am not the biggest fan of PE parts, though it wasn’t the smaller parts that caused me difficulty, having no trouble with the windshield wipers for example, but rather that vertical plate on the rear cargo door; in fact the comparison with the wipers is instructive, as they have a very definite and precise means of attachment, a small angled slot, while the plate was quite hard to locate and glue in place.
The helpful instructions and excellent details, with the enhancements added to this kit over and above their first, shows thoughtfulness and care being taken on the part of the designers to provide the best quality kit they can. Probably the only thing that could be said to be missing still is some decals. Whether the configuration represented by this particular kit is authentic may be a matter of debate, but I think it builds up into a very nice looking model, although I have no doubt that others will make a better job of it than me. It’s not an easy kit to build due to the amount of detail, the PE, and the relatively complicated sequence of construction and painting that is necessary, so it will take a while to complete, but not too long, for it’s still only a small model.
Looking forward to more releases from T-Model then, particularly on the basis that I know they are intent on improvement and have a strong desire to design and create the best kits they are able to. No pressure then…