The Churchill tank is becoming Synonymous with AFV Club
due to a considerable number of releases of this tank from them. The models have received rave reviews from some and been knocked by other reviewers depending on the level of knowledge of the reviewer, and to some extent what the reviewer is looking for or expecting to find. The Churchill tank had so many alterations over its life, both large and small and going from obvious to very subtle, these changes mean that even experts on the vehicle come to verbal fights over accuracy. I do not in any way claim to be an expert on the Churchill tank and as such I will be looking at this model from its general attributes. The accuracy of the model that I will touch upon will be where I am happy that I am on solid ground.
The following is the introduction provided by AFV Club
with their instructions.
The British tank design concept established in the 1930ís resulting in tanks in three different aspects; light tanks for reconnaissance, cruiser tanks which were fast and mobile and infantry tanks to accompany infantry to help them break through heavily defended areas in the enemy lines.
Although the Matildaís performance was proven in the Battle of France in 1940, yet its small turret made a heavier gun impossible. Furthermore, its limited off-road speed was never considered satisfactory. Designed as the successor of the Matilda, a new tank infantry prototype was introduced in November 1940, and the first batch of mass produced tanks saw service in June of the following year. This series of tanks was named after Winston Churchill who was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty at that time, due to his contribution to the development of the tank as a weapon. As an infantry tank the Churchill features heavy armour and a reliable suspension system, equipped with 11 bogies each side, dispersing ground pressure. Initial Mk I tanks equipped with a 2pdr gun in the cast turret, and also a 3inch howitzer in the hull. Never the less, the 3inch howitzer was limited by a poor fire arc, therefore was replaced with a 7.92mm machine gun on Mk II tanks. The Mk III was introduced in February 1942, with a larger welded turret and an upgraded 6pdr gun. By April, new Mk IIIís came with new patter tracks covered on the top run and new air intakes which improved its fording capability.
The Churchill Mk VI with Ordnance QF 75mm gun was introduced in late 1943. Partial of the Mk IIIís were also upgraded to this standard, plus added thicker armour on the chassis and turret, Those upgraded Mk IIIís later participated in Operation Overlord and saw extensive service in following campaigns in France.
This version of the Churchill tank from AFV Club
is packaged in the usual standard of a card tray and lid. Inside the box the sprues are all packaged in cellophane bags, the packaging has as far as I can see prevented any damage to the model parts. Inside the box you will find;
- 5 brown sprues
- 11 green sprues
- 1 clear sprue
- 1 cream resin part
- 1 turned aluminium barrel
- 2 vinyl rubber track links
- 2 photo etched frets
- 1 length of cord
- 1 decal sheet
- 24 metal springs
- An instruction booklet
Overall quality of the kit parts is good with no obvious flaws jumping out at me. There is no flash present and seam lines are none existent for the most part, what there is are minimal and easily removed. There are a number of flow lines in the plastic mouldings but they do not appear to have caused any issues that will need to be remedied. I will say at this point that AFV Club
have utilised an interesting and varied selection of materials in this model.
Suspension and Hull Sides
As is now common with AFV Club
Churchill tank models, the suspension is workable due to the use of springs supporting each axle. The workable suspension is in my opinion a nice touch, but I do have concerns about the springs being a little stiff for the articulation purpose. If bolted to a diorama base it should be fine, however I do not believe it will articulate without something pulling the model down. The side wall components have some nice detail imparted to them, and while I cannot comment on the accuracy but this detail should look pleasing to the eye when weathered.
The rest of the hull of this model have made me reconsider an opinion I have held on interiors; I have always felt that interiors in most cases where tanks are concerned are pointless, this tank model has good sized openings on the side, front and engine bay which allows good visual access. Panel detail is clearly and crisply defined on what is very much a multi-part affair, it is my belief that this approach to the hull has allowed AFV Club
to keep prices down while producing a very large selection of Churchill tanks. A downside for me with this model is that the Besa machine guns have not benefitted from slide moulds where the barrels are concerned, meaning they are solid barrelled and very easily broken if an attempt to drill them is made. Checking the details against my reference does not raise any concerns with me, but as I said I am not an expert.
The heavy cast steel tracks supplied with this offering are workable individual links; the detail present is very impressive for injection moulded plastic. The links are made of 2 parts and each part has two connection points that will need cleaning up. The part that really impresses me about these links is that each one has a casting number on it. There are 150 links provided in the kit and the instructions state that between 70 and 72 links are required for each run, so there are a few spares that could be used elsewhere on the model.
has done a good job of the track guards; they provide a sense of weight and size, something that is not always convincing to the eye in plastic. The intakes and exhausts while not strictly related to this portion of the model are very well replicated, in fact looking through this model and with my limited knowledge as regards accuracy, I am finding it especially hard to find anything I donít like or that I am unhappy with.
I am very impressed with this area of the model, the detail imparted is of an especially high standard in my opinion. The inclusion of a workable suspension, while the norm with the Churchill tank from AFV Club
is a great inclusion for those modellers that display their builds on dioramas with varied terrain; as stated previously the springs in my opinion are on the stiff side and the weight of the model will never provide accurate articulation on its own, and so consideration will have to be given to how you are going to achieve that articulation. The tools mounted on the hull are provided with clamp detail moulded on and that is one area where I would have liked to have the choice of moulded or separate photo etched clamp detail. The various access hatches are also well done and allow the modeller to decide if they want to add various partial interior areas, or indeed the engine and gearbox or they could opt for the full monty and add all of the interior detail.
The turret despite its multi-media parts is in comparison to the hull simplistic and childís play to assemble, consisting of very few parts. The turned aluminium barrel means no clean up is needed, the resin receiver for the barrel is a little confusing as I do not see what is gained from using a resin offering. The turret mounted Besa machine gun suffers the same issues as the hull one does, there being no recess or hole in the end. The turret body has good weld detail and as stated should go together easily and look the part despite being a simple assembly. The turret hatches are all provided with an open or closed option which is a plus that is not always provided, or a company sacrifices the look in order to make them workable. The muzzle brake has been supplied using slide moulded parts, which is a blessing due to its small size. Lastly I would like to thank AFV Club
for providing dimensions for the aerials/antennas, as this is something a number of companies do not provide.
Instructions and Finishing
The instruction booklet uses black and white line drawings to guide you through construction, with none of the stages being overly complicated. There are quite a few holes that need to be opened up in some parts, which while being clearly identified in the instructions and pre-marked on the parts no drill size is provided that I could see; not a big issue but worth being aware of. Take your time identifying which holes to open and you will be fine. There are four finishing options supplied with the model, the decals for which look to be of a good standard and very thin. The four finishing options are;
141st Royal Armoured Corps, 79th Division
9th Royal Tank Regiment, 34th Tank Brigade
153rd Regiment Royal Armoured Corps, 34th Tank Brigade
147th Royal Armoured Corps, 34th Tank Brigade
No location is provided for where these units were and so some research is in order. All of the finishing options state to use dark green paint and this should mean the European theatre of conflict.
Without the benefit of knowledge as regards accuracy, this is in my opinion a very pleasing model with a lot going for it. Negatives for me are hard to find with only three coming to mind. I would have like to have seen the machine guns being slide moulded for the sake of sanity. The tools I would have liked to see an option of tools with moulded clamps or with photo etched clamps. Finally a real pet hate I have is using twine for the towing cables, I really wish they would provide a suitable lead cable or similar. With that said I see every reason to pick this model up if the Churchill is a tank of interest.