A couple of days ago an unexpected package arrived at my door, inside the package was a sample of Combat Armour Models
first release, the VCL Light Amphibious Tank. The Vickers-Carden-Loyd amphibious tank was developed in 1931 by the well known UK military firm Vickers of Armstrong. The two prototypes received the army designations A4E11 and A4E12 (Later renamed L1E1 and L1E2). Thanks to the balsa wood floats encased in sheet steel in the form of track guards and attached to a watertight hull and propelled by a screw propeller, powered by the Meadows engine, the amphibian is able to traverse both on the land and float through calmer waters.
To the surprise of Vickers, although the vehicle had the state of the art amphibious quality, it was rejected by the military. The War Office Geniuses predicted that seaweed would block the elliptical leaf spring suspension when travelling through water and the suspension would be immediately liable to damage when the amphibian was brought ashore and used on the land. As a result, the firm had to rely on limited runs for foreign purchase orders on the A4E12 amphibians, which installed either a rectangular shape commander hatch (the early version) or a semicircular shape commanders hatch (the late version). One of the principle buyers, the USSR, based roughly on its licence, further developed their own series of amphibious tanks; T-33, T-37, T-38 and T41 which saw action in the Patriotic War.
The model is supplied in a cardboard tray with a card lid, with the sprues inside being sealed inside plastic bags. The kit breaks down as follows;
- 4 grey sprues
- A photo etched fret
- A decal sheet
- Instruction booklet
An examination of the sprues shows that Combat Armour Models
has got off to a great start as regards mould detail. There is a small amount of flash to be seen in some areas and there are some flow/cooling lines visible on some of the mouldings, but none of these are issues to scare away any modeller with a grounding in the basics; in fact unless you have a grounding the basics I would advise against this model due to the small parts and inclusion of photo etch.
The hull is made up of individual panels which will require some care during assembly to ensure the correct orientation is achieved. The very fine pins on the side panels for the hull and to which the wheel assemblies are attached are protected on the sprue by raised plastic, this is a shrewd move on the part of Combat Armour Models
as these are very fine and could easily be broken in transit otherwise. The raised rivet detail on these panels is nicely replicated and while I cannot find reference to verify their placement it looks acceptable. There is photo etched parts used in this area and these will have to be carefully moulded around the areas they are to be placed; with that said they should add some nice detail when completed.
Floats or Mudguards?
The floats that run down the sides of the vehicles are quite large due to the function they perform. As I have already stated I cannot verify the accuracy of the parts, however there are some nice details present in the form of photo etched brackets and moulded rivet detail.
The turret has been made up of four parts plus the top and the bottom, I am a little mystified as to why Combat Armour Models
has taken this approach as the shape does not appear to be that difficult, that said if care is taken it should be a perfectly acceptable finish. The Vickers MG has been slide moulded with an acceptable level of detail. When attached to the model it has been designed so that it can be elevated. The hatch on the turret can be set in an open or closed position, but the detail inside is limited to a seat and the back end of the MG and while that may be accurate I would have expected to see some ammunition storage.
The very simple carriage on this model looks good, but I have my only major gripe with the model in this location, the drive wheels. The teeth on the drive wheels have been flooded with plastic in the three locations that the gates are placed, it will be an easy task to free these wheels but you will need to cut and sand a number of very small teeth onto the parts.
The tracks are link and length and very fine. I donít think putting them together will be overly difficult as long as you have a steady pair of hands and are calm when it is attempted. Detail wise I feel Combat Armour Models
score very well here.
The propeller has been very nicely moulded and does add that sense of purpose. The part I am not looking forward to is the steering as it is designed to be workable, this involves some very nicely moulded but spindly parts that do or will have the ability to test you, but it again will look good if managed well.
Instructions and Decals
The instructions are in a fold out format and printed primarily in black and white. There are only 10 stages to this little tank and Combat Armour Models
has kept the assembly from being overly complicated as regards how much is going on in any one stage. I will say it is the first tank model I can remember where the turret is the first area built. The decals are numbers only, but they are thin and do not have excessive carrier film present. The finishing options offered are;
- 8th Route Army, Canton, Canton Province, China 1933
- 12th Army Group, Tsangshing, Canton Province, China 1938
- Instructional Vehicle, Army Mechanised School, Hungkong, Wu Nam Province, China 1940
This is an interesting and novel first release from Combat Armour Models
and covers the inter war period of armoured vehicles. I believe this will attract some attention when built as the finishing scheme is intricate and colourful. Most of the model is of a very high standard, with the only let down I detected in the un-built model being the drive wheel tooth detail being disrupted by the sprue gates.