The Churchill tanks first combat on European soil was less than stellar. Churchill tanks were landed on the Dieppe shoreline as part of a multinational Allied Force, the landing force consisting of Canadian, British and American forces supported by the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy. The Mk III Churchill tanks were sent ashore in support of the infantry and very quickly turned into a disaster for both the men and machines that landed. A number of the Churchill tanks floundered on the beach, having sunk into the shingle up to their lower hulls, the result of which meant they become static pill boxes and easy targets for the German artillery. The infantry with limited support in the way of armour paid a huge price in blood. Over 6,000 troops landed during the raid, most of whom were Canadian, when they retreated back to the boats they left behind in excess of 3,600 dead, wounded and captured troops. If there is one positive that came out of the sacrifice of those men that day, it is that the Allies learnt how not to embark on amphibious landings, and helped to make the D-Day landing 2 years later a success.
The model is packaged in the now standard tray and lid used by AFV Club
. All of the parts with the exception of the tracks are packed either singly or as pairs in plastic bags, the contents of the box breaks down as follows:
- 5 brown sprues
- 10 green sprues
- 1 clear sprue
- 2 vinyl track links
- A turned aluminium barrel
- A box top artwork poster
- A pack of springs
- A decal sheet
- 2 photo etched frets
- A thick piece of white paper
- A length of black cord
- An instruction booklet
Upon first opening the box I was impressed with the sheer quantity of parts packed within. A look through those contents did not dispel my positive opinion, as despite a number of the sprues having been included in previous Churchill tank releases from AFV Club
, I detected no obvious moulding issues. I was expecting flash to be making a show by now and there is none present. AFV Club
has a good record when it comes to moulding quality and this product re-enforces that. My only concern at this stage is that presently the majority of modellers no longer go to a local hobby shop to get the latest and greatest offerings, and while I am unaware of any issues being raised, I feel the box could benefit in being beefed up a bit to prevent possible damage to the contents while in the post.
Suspension and Lower Hull
Anyone who has tackled an AFV Club
Churchill in the past, will be very familiar with the majority of this release, but for those that haven’t read on. The suspension on this model is workable, and so if you wish to display this model on an uneven surface it has the ability to look realistic. The down side of the working suspension are all of the springs that need to be trapped; when AFV Club
first released the Churchill tank models with this feature there were a number of complaints, the majority of these complaints were about the difficulty of trapping all of the springs while retaining the workability of this aspect. Lately these complaints have ceased and I am unsure if that is due to the springs having been softened, or modellers becoming comfortable with the task. Love it or loath it the result of all that work in this area, covering ten stages in the instructions, is a very realistic and pleasantly detailed suspension system and lower hull. The hatches in the side of these units can be opened or closed if needed or desired. The only possible issue accuracy wise that may apply to this area, are the idler wheels at the front of the vehicle. While the area between the teeth on the Idler is not easily seen, I believe there should be oval holes in that face in order that collected detritus can get out. I should add that I am not 100% sure if it applies to this variant, but it is my belief and if it concerns you ‘Inside the Armour’ offer a resin and photo etched product to correct it.
The tracks supplied with this product are workable two piece offerings in a chocolate brown plastic. The instructions tell you that you need 72 to 73 track links per side and there are 155 track links in the box plus the vinyl rubber links included, this does mean you will need to take care during the removal from the sprue and subsequent clean up as there are not a lot of spares when you take into account the spare links carried. I do feel this inclusion is a good thing, but due to the modellers being a mix of love and hate when it comes to individual track links this could be a plus or a minus depending on the camp in which you fall.
The upper hull looks good to me, having crisp detail for the most part. All of the hatches can be left open or closed, which is a nice touch providing you have something to show on the inside, which the kit doesn’t. The exhaust nozzles are particularly well replicated, showing some very fine moulding and being both hollow and very thin walled. The BESA machine guns are quite nice, but are let down a little by not having been slide moulded and so the barrels will need to be drilled. There is a full set of track guards supplied with the model, but the instructions indicate very few of the pieces are used. Regarding the lack of track guards, I do not know why they were removed, but every picture I have looked at of a Canadian Churchill shows it minus the guards with the exception of the guard by the side mounted air intakes.
The turret for this model has a very small number of parts, but some great details. The inclusion of a turned aluminium barrel for the model is a great plus, doing away with the need to sand joints while avoiding flat spots, nice. With this you also get breach end of the gun and another of the nicely detailed BESA MGs, but again the barrel will need to be drilled. All of the hatches in the turret as with the hull can be left open or closed; at least with the turret AFV Club
has included some interior with the breach of the main gun. Another plus for me is that AFV Club
has provided the correct colour for the fire extinguisher ‘Brass’. The last part I want to point out on the turret is that the length of the aerials is supplied, well done AFV Club
as many others fail to provide this data.
has done a nice job of the wading stacks and exhaust I feel. The intake stakes have been slide moulded and so there are no cement joins to work around. The quick release arrangement of cables is very nicely detailed and should make for an eye catching addition for other modellers even if the wife doesn’t notice. The exhaust stack extensions are again slide moulded and provide a reasonable length of hollowed out area to give the impression of being a tube. The one thing that I am unable to work out is what the thick paper part is supposed to represent on the rear of the tank, I am drawing a complete blank and hope one of the members here can point me in the right direction.
The instruction booklet is nicely laid out, and while at this time I cannot tell you if there are any errors, nothing jumped out at me. The instructions use black and white line drawings to guide your progress and includes pertinent written information. I feel most modellers should be able to follow the instructions and have reasonable expectations of completing the build to a satisfactory level.
The decals included with the kit are off a good standard, the colour appears fine to me with the thickness being good. AFV Club
has provided 6 finishing options as listed below, with the German Beutepanzer being an unexpected inclusion.
- 13 Troop, C Squadron, 14th Canadian Army Tank Regiment (Calgary Regiment)
- 6 Troop, B Squadron, 14th Canadian Army Tank Regiment (Calgary Regiment)
- 7 Troop, B Squadron, 14th Canadian Army Tank Regiment (Calgary Regiment)
- 10 Troop, B Squadron, 14th Canadian Army Tank Regiment (Calgary Regiment)
- 9 Troop, B Squadron, 14th Canadian Army Tank Regiment (Calgary Regiment)
- German Beutepanzer
It is good to see companies such as AFV Club
giving Allied armour the same attention that some give to German tanks of World War Two. I also like the fact that rather than offering a Churchill tank, AFV Club
is now offering a family of Churchill tanks. I know that it is due to getting the most from the moulds, but it was not that long ago where if just one new allied tank came out you counted your blessings and considered yourself lucky. I am by no means an expert on the Churchill tank and I suspect that most of the modellers who build this model won’t be either, and as such I am happy to recommend this model to you. I am aware that there are modellers who like their builds to be just so, one of the beauties of this line of vehicles from AFV Club
is that the after market providers are making all kinds of great updates for these Churchill kits, so you can get you model just the way you want it.