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First Look Review
135
Churchill Mk. III
  • ChurchJ

by: Jim Rae [ JIMBRAE ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

Introduction

A (very) few years ago, I was part of the nay-sayers, who frankly didn't believe that Allied armor was a financially viable area for the principal manufacturers. Beyond the M4 Sherman, it didn't honestly seem as if the many other subjects would ever get considered. It's nice (sometimes) to get proven wrong. Allied Armor is undergoing a total renaissance at the moment with some previously unimagined subjects getting a modern treatment. Personally speaking, one vehicle in particular has always captured my attention - the Churchill.

This vehicle served in virtually every front during WWII - the Western Desert, Italy, Russia, NW Europe and finished its front-line career in Korea in the 1950s. Only really superceded by the M4 & the T34 in longevity, the Churchill is certainly worthy as a modeling subject. Well, you'd think so. Unfortunately, the Churchill has been roundly ignored by the 1/35th manufacturers as not being a sufficiently 'flexible' subject to gather much attention beyond Tamiya's Mk.VII in the 1970s. That is, until AFV Club surprised everyone by their announcement that they'd be releasing a completely new model and, if early indications are correct, producing a number of different variants along the way. The patience of many has been roundly vindicated!

in the box

The subject of AF35153 represents two different variants of the Mark III. These two variants are the EARLY (reworked) Mk.III or the Mid Period/Late Mk.III. This is due to the kit including the front and side bolt-on appliqué armor. The model comes on a total of 14 plastic sprues (one clear plastic for periscopes etc.) also included is a sheet of photo-etched brass, a turned-aluminium barrel, 22 metal springs and a pair of vinyl tracks.

The Decals

A very nicely-produced decal sheet includes four subjects:

1) British Army: 'Kingforce' El Alamein 1942
2) Soviet Army: Winter 1942-43
3) 14th Canadian Army Tank Regiment (Calgary Regiment), Britain 1942
4) 51st RTR, Tunisia 1943


Some General comments

As this model will be the subject of a FULL build in the Forums, I prefer to keep the comments about accuracy etc. to the Blog. In the meantime, I'll keep to general observations about the model in its 'raw' state.

AFV Club provides a well-produced 20-page instruction booklet which does illustrate how complex the model is. The instructions are some of the clearest I can remember seeing in a modern kit - kudos to the manufacturer!
Anyone who has built Tamiya's Mk.VII will immediately realize the difference in sophistication between the two models. The suspension on this model is pretty close to the construction of the original and, with the addition of the steel springs, a (more than) serious attempt has been made to articulate the suspension. Mould quality is everything we have come to expect from this manufacturer also - looking closely at the sprues, they have come cleanly out of the mould with little work to be done in cleaning up mould-lines etc.

The initial (and minimal) work I've done with plans has shown that dimensionally it's excellent and the turret, in particular, scales out virtually perfectly with details also being correct. I won't be using the kit tracks (having an aversion to vinyl tracks) although they are VERY nicely-done but for tracks of this type, single-link are preferable. AFV Club released a set of workable Track Links (T-144 double pin latter-pattern type) and I'll be using these on the build.
Ted Hayward is working his way through a series of Reviews of AFV Club's update sets for the Churchill III. Here are the first:

Replacement Individual Track Links (LINK)

The second, includes an item that was used on SOME of the King Force Churchills at El Alamein - the front-mounted Dust Screen:

Churchill Accessories
(LINK)


Finally, for loading-out your Churchill:

Six-Pounder Ammunition Set (LINK)


Conclusion

It's a VERY complete model of this fascinating subject, however, it has to be said that it is NOT for the absolute novice. Due to the company's determination to reproduce as closely as possible areas such as the complex suspension of the original, this is a complicated model and one which will require careful planning during the construction phase - partly due to the options which are present in the model. The clarity of the instructions will go a considerable way in easing the process, however, it's advised that they are followed and studied carefully!

Definitely, this comes into the category of well-worth waiting for and, perhaps it was better to wait until the recent advances in technology caught up with the Churchill - it's something that, IMO, was better to have been done properly than half-heartedly. I'm (almost) dreading the suspension, but, as the Churchill has always been a favorite subject of mine, and as the designers have made it as straightforward as possible, it'll be worth the effort!

VERY Highly Recommended

SUMMARY
Highs: The subject. The decals and the clarity of the instructions.
Lows: Perhaps it may be a little daunting for the less-experienced?
Verdict: A superb and LONG overdue model of this, one of the most 'classic' subjects in British Armor.
  SUBJECT:100%
  MOULDS:95%
  INSTRUCTIONS:90%
Percentage Rating
95%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: AF 35153
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Mar 09, 2009
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 88.06%
  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 Jim Rae (jimbrae)
FROM: PROVINCIA DE LUGO, SPAIN / ESPAñA

Self-employed English teacher living in NW Spain. Been modelling off and on since the sixties. Came back into the hobby around ten years ago. First love is Soviet Armor with German subjects running a close second. Currently exploring ways of getting cloned to allow time for modelling, working and wr...

Copyright ©2017 text by Jim Rae [ JIMBRAE ]. 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.


Reader Reviews
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Comments

Thanks for the review Jim, I bought one of these today so it'll be interesting to see what you make of the build.
MAR 08, 2009 - 05:39 PM
Hi Dave - only one!!! Thanks for the reviwew Jim. Al
MAR 09, 2009 - 01:49 PM
Great review. In the process of painting/weathering this kit at the moment. It was a joy to build. Jon
MAR 09, 2009 - 01:55 PM
At £31 each - yes, only one! Probably to it'll be finished as the Canadian example without the track guards. Somehow the Churchill seems more brutal looking that way and shows the descent from WW1 tanks........
MAR 09, 2009 - 04:28 PM
Apart from the 'basic' Mk. III kit, Ted Hayward is working his way through some of the add-ons that AFV Club is producing. The first two (the accesory set & the individual track-links) have already been posted and linked into THIS Review. There is still a 6-pounder ammo set and a bolt set to come which will be added soon...
MAR 10, 2009 - 04:25 AM
Hi Jim Nice review of the kit and spot on. Having built one, virtually, from the box, I can tell you it's as good as it looks and goes together very nicely. I'm on my second now, using sone resicast conversion parts, and can say don't fear the suspension, just fit it as per instruction stages. I also used the Hobbyfan kit, used in the link, and that is very nice too. Although your reviewer has fitted the skirt incorrectly as it requires the front fenders to be on, to support it. Paul
MAR 10, 2009 - 05:24 AM
At £31 each - yes, only one! Probably to it'll be finished as the Canadian example without the track guards. Somehow the Churchill seems more brutal looking that way and shows the descent from WW1 tanks........ [/quote] Hi Dave, I got 2 from LM , both at a really good price. Planned to use them for engineering vehicle conversions but the builds of the gun tank look excellent so I shall have to aquire some more!! Hi Paul, Yes saw that too, the dust excluder was used when the front fenders were on. I've read somewhere along the way, that the removal of the front fenders, and said dust excluder actually helped cut the dust down so that the driver could see? i like the stowage set though. Al
MAR 10, 2009 - 03:47 PM
[quoteHi Paul, Yes saw that too, the dust excluder was used when the front fenders were on. I've read somewhere along the way, that the removal of the front fenders, and said dust excluder actually helped cut the dust down so that the driver could see? i like the stowage set though. Al[/quote] I read that too on a page dedicated to Kingforce. Apparently removing the fenders, and therefore the Skirt too, was a better solution than using the Skirt in the first place. The stowage set is extremely nice though and i wouldn't hestitate to recommend it. maybe they could do a smaller set, without skirt, at a reduced price and then that would suit far more Churchills! Just athought Paul
MAR 10, 2009 - 06:03 PM
Well spotted, guys - Typical British engineering, it sounds like (I can safely say as the owner of several Jaguar cars). I bought the book , "Mr. Churchill's Tank" after I completed the model.
MAR 10, 2009 - 06:48 PM
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