by: Frank Portela [ ]
The twin mounted Oerlikon 20mm AA and co-axial Vickers K, .303 MG Crusader III AA MkIII was conceived and realized in 1943. About 600 were built and delivered to armoured units for Normandy, 22 per division. Due to allied air supremacy over western Europe, and the need to re-allocate the crews due to tank losses, most of the units where disbanded from July '44. Some units did maintain the Crusader III AA in their ranks throughout the war.
This is basically the old Italeri offering with a new turret. None of the short falls of the kit have been addressed, but considering it's age, it still builds into a solid model. I have taken my old Crusader III in the light tan coloured plastic and used that as a base for this new model. The dark green plastic is that of the kit. Fortunately it's not the old Italeri 'hard as nails' plastic that would devour sanding sticks at record pace. The contrast between the two colours should give you an idea on what is new moulding and what is old.
Italeri gives you three dark green sprues, new parts mixed in with the old. The rubber tracks are pretty good considering their age, although I did experience some trouble glueing the tracks with C.A. glue. In hindsight, I should have washed them prior to assembly. A decal sheet and instructions complete the package.
The new turret looks true to form, the Oerlikon 20mm guns have limited detail. The mounting points on the 60 round drum-magazines given to you in the instructions will leave you scratching your head. I'm still not certain that mine are positioned properly! The .303 MG encased in the metal jacket looks good on the outside, but strangely enough, disappears on the inside of the turret. Internal detail on the turret is limited, and what is given, seems to be placed there as filler. The connecting rod attaching the twin Oerlikon to the gun site works but limits the vertical traverse of the guns from approximately 7 degrees to about 70 degrees.
The hull is augmented with additional armour plates and an additional stowage box. The No. 19 radio antennae mount is repositioned from the turret location of the Mk II AA to the driver's left. I've left off the cylindrical fuel tank on the back of the hull. The few photographs I have of the rear of Crusader III AA, do not have the tank attached.
The kit provides a good on-register water slide sheet with the following options
7th Arm Div - Normandy "Skyraker"
43rd Wessex Div - Normandy
1st Polish Arm. Div/ !st Antitank Artillery Reg. - Breda, Holland Oct. '44
This kit will not give you the quality and the finesse of your typical Dragon offering, but considering the limited offerings to us Allied afficionados, it's a breath of fresh air. Highly recommended from this guy.
The model was purchased by me.
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