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In-Box Review
135
Churchill with fascine carrier
Churchill Mk IV AVRE with fascine carrier frame
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by: Darren Baker [ CMOT ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

Introduction

Major General Percy Hobart was the mastermind behind the series of vehicles collectively known as Hobart’s Funnies. Hobart’s Funnies were a series of specialist vehicles, usually based on tanks and operated by the Royal Engineers as part of the 79th Armoured Division. The tank which seems to have attracted the most attention for the modifications was the Churchill in its various versions; however the Sherman and the Valentine also received some attention from Major General Percy Hobart.

You have to give AFV Club credit when it comes to finding a little produced Allied tank when it comes to model form, but that has so many different versions, different versions that I expect like I most thought would only be available in resin. AFV Club has taken the Churchill tank to its heart as it has done with the Centurion. AFV Club has then released a large number of Churchill gun tanks and has now moved on to releasing the ‘Funnies’. The latest versions released are the carpet layer, fascine carrier and ‘snake’ mine clearing tank versions of the Churchill. This review takes a look at the Churchill Mk IV AVRE with fascine carrier frame.

Contents

This model is supplied in the usual large box popular with AFV Club. The box is very well packed and so movement inside the box is minimal and so helps to reduce the potential for damage to the contents, unlike some of the Churchill kits it is fairly easy to get everything packed away again. Below is a list of how the contents break down;
12 green sprues
Upper turret
22 suspension springs
1 clear sprue
2 pairs of vinyl rubber spare track links
2 vinyl rubber track runs
A spring
2 photo etched frets
A decal sheet
An instruction booklet
A box top artwork
2 lengths of twine in different diameters

Review

First Impressions
A look at the parts that make up this model gives me a positive opinion for the most part. The moulded parts appear to be clean and free of moulding faults, except that I did find a couple of shallow sink marks, more on that in the main body of the review. This is basically AFV Club’s AF35169 Churchill Mk IV AVRE with the addition of a fascine carrier frame. Despite that release being about 5 years ago the moulds are holding up very well or AFV Club’s are doing a very good job of keeping the moulds in good order.

Anyone who has tackled one of AFV Club’s Churchill tank models will be in familiar territory with the hull, wheel and suspension components of this model. The hull is made up of a series of flat detailed parts that attach to the hulls side walls, it is this approach by AFV Club that has made it financially viable to offer so many variants of the Churchill tank, I believe. The suspension is workable on this model, so if you have not tackled one of these before the model can be depicted on an uneven base and be presented in a realistic manner. There have been complaints in some previous reviews about the difficulty encountered of using the spring loaded suspension while constructing the model, these complaints do seem to have stopped, but I do not know if this is due to the springs having been softened or the abilities of modellers having improved due to following the approach of other modellers who have found an assembly method that makes this easier.

One of the issues of the running gear that I have been made aware of is the drive wheels, these lack the holes that sit between the cogs and allow muck that gets in through the side holes on the wheels to clear. This issue can be tackled in a couple of ways, you could drill out the detail on kit parts, but if you are concerned about the thickness the other option is provided by Inside the Armour who has provided an after-market solution. While on the subject of Inside the Armour, they also offer a full interior for both hull and turret and even an engine and its bay. I will say that seeing this detail is not easy and so really does come down to how much accuracy is enough for you as a modeller. The suspension is a very realistic reproduction of the area of the real model. At this time it is also worth pointing out that Inside the Armour is just releasing a book dedicated to building models of the Churchill Tank and this book should help modellers to get the most out of the line of AFV Club Churchill kits that are available and will be coming onto the market.

The tracks provided with this model are the vinyl rubber type; yes I know, why, have that not provided the individual workable tracks? I believe the answer is simple to that question, there is no room in the box as it is for them and they are available separately for about £15. I am informed that the workable track links represent the same tracks as the vinyl rubber tracks depict, just better. As such I am not going to criticise AFV Club for supplying the vinyl tracks as some will prefer them for their ease of use, for everyone else pick up a set of the workable tracks. The spare track links are also vinyl rubber and that is something I am not keen on as I would have liked to see AFV Club include injection moulded spare track links instead.

A few features on the hull that I do like are the hatches and the exhaust. Every hatch cover can be displayed open and has detail on both faces of the hatch covers, a nice touch if you decide to have the hatches open or indeed if you are tempted by an interior. The exhausts are very nice having been supplied hollow rather than solid and so not needing to be drilled out by the modeller. The covers for the exhausts are also supplied separately, another aspect that I like due to the look that can be achieved. Checking the general layout against the reference I have available, primarily Mr.Churchill's Tank - The British Infantry Tank Mark IV - By David Fletcher, this does appear to me to be a very good match up. With the churchill usually being good old green, all of the nicely replicated deck does allow for some nice variations in the deck cote; what is it the army says, "If it doesn't move paint it green",.

The track guards are supplied in a series of parts for each run and due to this approach the modeller has the option of adding all, some or none of them to the model. The detail is good in this area in my opinion.

The main gun of this tank has been replaced with the 290mm Petard spigot mortar, this weapons system was not intended for tank on tank combat, but if you were hiding in a concrete bunker it was a weapons system you would regret seeing. The detail of mortar supplied with the model is excellent in my opinion, detail that even allows you to show it with a round in or out of the weapon and even provides for the barrel to be displayed in a loading position. Included in the kit are two mortar rounds with good detail overall and unlike the AF35169 Churchill Mk IV AVRE from AFV Club decals have been included for these rounds of ammunition; a nice detail to have included AFV Club. The turret itself is fairly simplistic, but that does not mean it is inaccurate. The general shape and detail present looks to be very good to me. As mentioned previously the hatches can all be shown open or closed and do have detail on both sides of the hatches.

The wooden mount for the fascine is the new inclusion to this kit and is unfortunately where I found some sink marks present. Now in fairness to AFV Club the sink marks have occurred on what are fairly heavy mouldings in terms of thickness and as we all know the thicker injection moulded plastic parts are the greater the risk this type of fault will occur. There is another very unexpected problem here, and that is that there are ejector pin marks on some of the moulded parts of this frame. It is a real shame that the marks are there as AFV Club has done a very good job of adding a well defined wood grain to this unpainted wooden frame. I can see two options for the modeller here; you could fill the ejector pin marks and then scratch some wood grain effect into the filler to replicate the grain visible on the rest of the plastic. The other option for the modeller is to use the plastic parts as a pattern to reproduce the frame in wood, with the way AFV Club has reproduced the frame this approach would not be as difficult as it might have been. Unfortunately AFV Club has not included a fascine with the model, but they do provide details on size and dimensions of this facet for the modeller, or you could invest in the Resin fascine made available by Hobby Fan specifically for this model.

Finishing Options
The decals supplied with the model all appear to be in good order and of reasonable thickness. AFV Club have supplied us with four named finishing options as opposed the infamous ‘unknown unit’ that modellers are sometimes subjected to. These finishing options are;
222nd assault squadron, 42nd assault regiment, 79th armoured division, Normandy, June 1944
And also covers three tanks from the;
82nd assault squadron, 6th assault regiment, 79th armoured division, Normandy, June 1944

Conclusion

The AFV Club Churchill Mk IV AVRE is a very good model, that neither I nor anyone else seems to have any major issues or concerns about. Construction has been laid out in a logical manner which should not present modellers with even minimal abilities any major issues as long as you are comfortable with using photo etch. I do like that the suspension is workable due to how this broadens the options when it comes to displaying the finished kit. The mortar and its ammunition are excellently reproduced and will add another area of interest both for the modeller and anyone looking at a finished model. The sink marks and ejector pin marks are a little disappointing, but are not issues that cannot be overcome. I would have liked to see a fascine included with the model, but this would be a very substantial lump of plastic that I can see creating some issues for anyone attempting to provide such a thing. All told this is a model that will gain admiring looks, but I urge modellers to at least attempt making a fascine for the model if you decide not to go down the after-market route.


Fascine Lumber Bundles for the Churchill with Fascine Carrier Frame
SUMMARY
Highs: For me I suppose the high mark of this model is that AFV Club has decided to supply a model that I never thought I would see as an out of the box build.
Lows: The ejector pin marks and sink marks on the fascine frame are disappointing.
Verdict: For something out of the norm this kit has to be a must have.
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: AF 35288
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Apr 22, 2015
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 87.16%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 89.65%

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This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.
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Copyright ©2017 text by Darren Baker [ CMOT ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of TankRat's. All rights reserved.


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