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In-Box Review
135
Churchill Mk IV Snake
Churchill Mk IV AVRE Snake
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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 ‘snake’ mine clearing tank version of the Churchill.

Contents

This release from AFV Club is packaged in one of their standard boxes. The contents break down as follows;
18 green sprues
Upper turret
1 clear sprue
2 vinyl rubber track links
2 vinyl rubber track runs
22 springs
3 photo etched frets
1 looped spring
A length of twine
A decal sheet
2 poly caps
A resin figure
An instruction booklet
A box top artwork

Review

First Impressions
This model is a little older than the previous two Churchill’s I have covered of late, but is still of a good quality. The mouldings are still cleanly moulded with a good level of detail throughout. I have not been able to find any obvious issues with any of the mouldings supplied with this model. I do have issues with the decal sheet supplied and will cover that in further detail towards the end of this review. I have found a very nice build of this model in our forums and a link to that will be supplied at the end of this review. The only complaint I can make reference the moulding is that there are some ejector pin marks that will need to be addressed.

The suspension follows the same pattern as previous release, the wheels will rotate, the suspension being mounted on springs allows the finished model to be displayed on an uneven base in a realistic manner. The tracks included with this model are the vinyl rubber offering and not the very nice workable individual track links that AFV Club; these individual track link sets are available separately for roughly £15.00 a set. The clearance holes on the drive wheels have not been duplicated between the drive rings. This area of the model is not the easiest to see even when looking for the issue, but you have two options if you want to replicate this detail; one you could put the drill to work and make the holes, this would leave quite thick areas present. The other option is to go to Inside the Armour and purchase a set of their drive wheels which accurately display this detail and also includes the bolt detail present on the inside of the toothed ring.

The hull of the model has some really nice detail present, let’s be honest AFV Club has had plenty of practice now. The hatches can be displayed either open or closed and there is nice detail present on the inner faces, there is no interior detail present, but again Inside the Armour offers a full interior and engine to boot if required. The panels that make up the hull has enabled AFV Club to provide some fairly crisp moulding to be present. The track guards look good to me, but there are photo etched offerings from the after market companies if preferred; personally I feel the photo etched offerings in this respect are a nightmare to build. The variations on the hull of Churchill tank do offer the opportunity for excellent colour variation to be used and so add life to the model.

The exhausts have been well replicated which along with the separate covers again add a nice touch. The BESA machine guns are very nicely done for injection moulded plastic, a number of companies would just provide the barrel where as AFV Club have provided the full machine gun. One thing I do not like is the spare track links are supplied in vinyl rubber and I would have much preferred these to have been injection moulded plastic as I think the detail would have been crisper.

The ‘Snake’ parts for this model are ok depending on your needs. The girders across the tank have some ejector pin marks that will need to be addressed. The actual Bangalore torpedoes have been moulded as four sets of four and this does effect the look of the model I feel; I will follow the example shown in the link at the end of this review and replace the plastic with 3.5mm brass or aluminium tube, which will look better I feel. There is some wiring required at the rear of the tubes to finish the look.

The turret is a bone of contention as the model build I have linked to does not have its mortar fitted, my search for reference indicates that the tank known as ‘Banner’ did have the mortar fitted, but in fairness to the modeller there is a picture of the tank prior to installation of the mortar. So the model is not inaccurate, just accurate for a specific moment in time. The mortar itself is very well replicated and gives the modeller the opportunity to display the weapon loaded, being loaded or empty, two petards are supplied with the model but the markings that can be seen on the projectiles are not supplied on the decal sheet. The hatches can again be shown open or closed and so the resin figure has a few holes to sit in.

The resin figure supplied with the model is a very nice added extra as indicated by the pictures. I particularly like the locating pins for the head and arms that ensure proper placement. The figure also of course offers that sense of scale missing when no figures are present.

Decals are where the model falls down, there is only one finishing option provided. The finishing option covers a tank named banner that is part of the 79th Armoured Division. It is the decals themselves that is the issue as the protective sheet is stuck firmly to the decals. I have contacted AFV Club and after checks they found a bad batch. I have been told that anyone coming up against this issue should contact the supplier/importer and replacements will then be sent to fix this issue. I should point out that I have not seen this mentioned before and so I do not know how many kits are effected, but obviously not all.

Conclusion

This is an interesting looking model of a Churchill variant that does not appear to have gone to war, at least not that I found; however any modeller interested in the strange and unusual should consider adding this one to their range. There are some easy improvements that the modeller can add to the mix if they choose, I think most of us like to add something of ourselves to a model even if it is just blood, sweat and tears. The situation with the decals is a pain, but if checked early replacements should arrive before the build is complete.

Related links

Churchill Snake by Gastec
SUMMARY
Highs: This is an unusual looking Churchill variant and the added resin figure is a very nice extra.
Lows: The decal sheet being unusable is a pain, but no an issue that cannot be overcome.
Verdict: Well worth considering for addition to your list of oddballs.
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: AF35259
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Apr 30, 2015
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 87.16%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 89.65%

Our Thanks to AFV Club!
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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About Darren Baker (CMOT)
FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH WEST, UNITED KINGDOM

I have been building model kits since the early 70’s starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70’s, I have had lots of opportunitie...

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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