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Built Review
135
Challenger 2 Enhanced Armour
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by: Darren Baker [ CMOT ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

Introduction

The Challenger 2 can trace its ancestry back to an order of the Shir 2 (upgraded Chieftain) for the Shah of Iran, this order was cancelled in 1979 when the Shah of Iran was overthrown. At that time the British Army was looking for a replacement for the aging Chieftain tank, with the M1 Abrams tank and the Leopard 2 being the main contenders for the crown. The cancellation on the Shir 2 however led to the British Army getting the Challenger 1 at the end of 1982 via a roundabout route, and going into service proper in mid 1983. Between 1983 and 1990 the British Army received 420 Challenger 1ís.

The Challenger 2 started to replace the Challenger 1 in mid 1998, with a total of 386 Challenger 2ís being delivered by mid 2002. Challenger 2 has seen active service with the British Army in Kosovo and Iraq (Challenger 1 saw active duty in the Bosnia and the 1st Gulf War). During those conflicts no Challenger was lost to enemy action, one Challenger 2 was destroyed in a blue on blue incident when another Challenger 2 fired on it.

Trumpeter have now manufactured a model of the Challenger 2 in one of its latest armour configurations, with the first rendition of bar armour being provided in injection moulded plastic.

In June 2010 I did an in box review of the Trumpeter Challenger 2 Enhanced Armour which can be viewed Here, in this next step I will do a build review of the model.

Build review

Stage One:
This stage covers the wheel assembly of the Challenger 2, with this new offering having a new pattern road wheel. Trumpeter have provided new outer wheels and utilized the old inner wheel with some unexpected results. The new outer wheel has a thinner profile and is not a perfect fit when attached to the inner wheel, this is not a major problem as long as you centre the inner and outer wheels.

The drive and idler wheels are from Trumpeters older Challenger 2 kits and are acceptable. The drive wheels require careful removal from the sprue and during clean up as they are easily broken around the tear drop lightening holes. The road wheels and idler have a polly cap inside for attachment to the axles, and there is a slight problem with this method as the polly caps do not get a good grip to the axles and will need to be glued in place.

Stage Two:
This stage just covers joining the ends of the rubber band type tracks, and as I will be using the Workable Challenger 2 Tracks from Armor Track Models, and now also available from Trumpeter, this stage was skipped.

Stage Three:
In this stage you start assembly of the suspension which is the same as the older Challenger 2 kits from Trumpeter. Assembly is straight forward and all parts fit together well if thoroughly tidied up before assembly, it should be mentioned that as theses parts are from the older Challenger 2 kits that ejector pin marks are present and need to be filled.

Stage Four:
Here you finish assembly of the suspension and again, as they are from Trumpeters earlier kits, the same problems are present. Once this assembly stage is complete the area looks good and busy and I was happy with the result.

Finally you add detail parts to the front bow of the Challenger 2, and unfortunately there are again ejector pin marks that need attention. To be honest, the ejector pin marks and their positions are easily fixed with some filler and a sharp blade dragged across the flat face, this approach resulted in no sanding being required.

Stage Five:
At this point you attach the wheels to the axles.

Stage Six:
This step covers placing the tracks on the vehicle, which as mentioned earlier are not the ones included in the box. I will be adding my tracks after I have painted under the sponsons.

Stages Seven through Ten:
This begins with the rear plate for the hull and there is a fair amount of detail added that was not present in earlier Trumpeter Challenger 2 kits. To start, you add parts included in the older model and the towing eye will again need some filler added due to ejector pin marks, other than that all parts are easy to apply. It is worth mentioning that you should take care when attaching the light clusters as it is easy to place them on the wrong sides or the wrong angle, possibly even upside down, so check before applying glue.

These stages continue the construction of the rear panel and no issues were encountered. The new mouldings are an improvement over the old where used and do not suffer the issue of ejector pin marks. The bar armour represented in plastic more than lived up to my expectations and when finished the rear panel look very good. It is my opinion that rather than waiting until the rear panel is complete before attaching to the hull it is attached after the initial stage, but that is entirely up to you. It should also be mentioned that in these stages you start to use the included PE components, and my in box review raised concerns referring to bending these items was unfounded, as they are easily folded.

Stage Eleven:
In this stage you get to do some surgery on the upper hull, in this case partial removal of the moulded front mud flaps and then sanding down the front of the mud guard. I didnít do that, I just sanded the detail down flat and then attached the PE guards which seems to have worked. I should also mention that I joined the lower and upper hull at this time as it is easier to clamp or apply any needed pressure while the upper hull was free of added parts.

When the upper and lower hull is joined you will notice a considerable gap between the sponsons on the lower hull and the inner face of the mud guards on the upper hull at the front. I filled this gap with some squadron green filler, but as it will not be viewable without lifting and turning the model over it is not strictly necessary to fill the gaps.

Stage Twelve:
Here you add the detail to the front of the upper hull, and will again bump into our old friend the ejector pin mark, but they are again easily corrected. On my build I have left off the fire extinguishers at this time and will add them after the initial painting stage. There are two slots near the front of the upper hull where a splash guard is fitted, as this guard is not used in either armour format of this vehicle these slots need to be filled, unless you are happy that they are hidden under the dozer blade or frontal armour pack.

My reference material on the Challenger 2 tanks in combat indicates that they do not have wing mirrors up, or in some cases in place, and because of this I have cut the wing mirror arm away from its mounting plate and laid them down with the mirror face down. One of the wing mirror arms on my kit was broken on the sprue, and it should also be mentioned that as the arms are a very small diameter they can easily be broken during removal from the sprue.

Stage Thirteen:
You now move to the rear deck of the upper hull and attach 16 lifting handles and hinges, this stage can be tricky due to the small size of the brackets and the carpet monster will easily swallow these parts up. To prevent this problem I added these parts with the hull placed in the box lid, that way any parts dropped were easily located again.

Stage Fourteen:
Here we see the near completion of the upper hull just to the rear of the turret, one part worth mentioning here is the good detail on the two exhaust mouldings.

Stages Fifteen and Sixteen:
These two stages cover assembly of the dozer, and is one part of the model that I believe Trumpeter should consider releasing as a stand alone product. While listed as two stages, realistically it is made up of 7 steps and consists of 37 parts, and my example was free of ejector pin marks and was reasonably easy to assemble. A little filler will be needed to clean up some of the joints but it is otherwise excellent. In the end you will have three sub assemblies which is a good time to paint the dozer blade in its base colour. All this results in a nicely detailed optional addition to your Challenger 2 that is workable as far as final positioning goes.

Stage Seventeen:
This covers the construction of the side armour panels, and while only consisting of 10 parts per side results in nicely detailed side skirt armour panels.

Stage Eighteen:
Here is where the instructions tell us to mate the lower and upper hull, but as I suggested earlier I still recommend that this is done at an earlier point in construction. There is a problem that needs to be overcome at this point; at the rear of the upper hull on both side there is a bar bent at 90deg, I do not know exactly what these parts are but one is way too short to cover the needed area. To correct this just bend a piece of wire or plastic rod and replace them.

Stage Nineteen:
Here you attach the left side skirt armour, the mounting brackets for either the dozer blade assembly or front armour package, and some small detail at the rear side of the hull. Two points worth making here are that the mounting brackets can be attached on the top front of the hull, and a decision made later or after painting as to which addition you want on the front of your Challenger 2. The second point is concerning the side skirt armour which has a slight bow front to back, which while not a problem in itself, does require that it is held in place along its length to get it correctly placed while the glue sets.

The last part of this step involves making the tow ropes. While brass wire is included in the box for this step I prefer to use picture hanging cable, I feel this provides the most realistic looking finished product. The two cables are then attached to the side of the hull with a separately moulded eye hook and slots into the 3 mounting brackets which are attached to the side skirt armour which were added in stage seventeen.

Stage Twenty:
This stage covers the construction of the add on frontal armour as the alternative to the dozer blade. Although this stage only consists of six parts they build into a nicely detailed add on armour panel, the downside is that two of the pieces have ejector marks that will be visible when built.

Stage Twenty One:
Here you add the ride side armour skirt and tow cable, it also shows how to attach the add on armour plate should you opt for that rather than the dozer blade. Finally you add four small detail parts to the rear ride side of the hull.

Stage Twenty Two:
Here we finally finish the hull of the tank which involves assembling the rear mud guards and bar armour to the rear. No problems were encountered other than getting the bar armour in the correct place as location is not clearly indicated.

The Turret

The turret and its components are completely new mouldings and reworked parts and does, I believe, lift this model over Trumpeterís other Challenger 2 model offerings.

Stage Twenty Three:
Here you assemble the parts of the main gun. The barrel is quite difficult to get neatly joined and lined up so take your time with these parts. The barrel receiver is a much improved part over Trumpeterís other Challenger 2ís with it not only being better designed and easier to assemble but much more realistic texture wise. The only piece of work needed here is the coaxial machine gun which needs to have the barrel drilled to improve its appearance and to make it look more realistic.

Stage Twenty Four:
This stage is straight forward as you add some of the exterior detail from inside the upper turret. Trumpeter, having now dropped the multi-part turret for a basic three parts, has improved the turret to no end. You also add the left side external armour hangers.

Stage Twenty Five:
This covers the assembly of the loaders turret door and machine gun and is broken down into five steps, which adds to the clarity of assembly. One improvement to be made here is to drill out the barrel of the machine gun.

Stage Twenty Six:
Here the upper and lower turret is mated and the main gun attached. You also add the rear panel to the turret, the hangers for the added armour on the right side, and some detail to the roof of the turret. All of the parts are a good fit and should not present you with any issues.

Stage Twenty Seven:
In this stage you add the smoke grenade launchers, the commandersí turret ring, some small details on top of the turret roof, and the first armour panel to the left side of the turret.
First problem are the lifting eyes that are mounted either side of the main gun as there is an ejector mark on the side of both lifting eyes, on my example a light sanding removed them but you may need to fill them in other examples.

The other problem you will find here is that the side armour panel has a raised triangle at the bottom on all four panel segments on both sides of the turret and this is incorrect. Rumor has it that Trumpeter mistook the warning triangles on the dummy panels as raised detail and replicated them on the model. This triangular detail needs to be removed and there are two options for its removal;
firstly you could sand the raised detail off of the panels, or secondly the method I used was to chisel the detail off using the reverse side of a chisel blade followed by a light sanding to tidy up.

Stage Twenty Eight:
This stage covers assembly of the commanders primary sight, which while not much changed from the original Trumpeter kits design wise it is far easier to put together. Also covered here is the commanders turret hatch, the brackets for attaching the rear bar armour panel, and the right side armour panel. Again all parts are a good fit and other than removing the raised triangle detail from the armour panel no issues were encountered.

Stage Twenty Nine:
This stage finishes the turret assembly by adding the three bar armour panels, two radio antenna mounts, and the loaders hatch with MG. Again, no issues were found but you are advised to attach the two side bar armour panels and then the rear panel to help line everything up.

Stage Thirty
This is not really a stage at all as it just covers adding the turret to the hull which is simply locating the lugs and twist. It does show the assembly of the MRE boxes in this step but the in box review comments pointed out that the boxes were US issue and not British.

All that is left to do is add paint, aerials, and decals to your finished model build.

Conclusion

Having built this model now it has highlighted some issues with ejector pin marks that I missed with the in-box review, and while Trumpeter has improved this problem they have not solved the issue. The pin marks are much smaller and less numerous but they still add a lot of work to the build as regards to filling and sanding them. The almost completely newly designed turret with the older parts having been heavily reworked is a real high point of this model, and almost overshadows the injection moulded bar armour.

There are issues with silly mistakes such as the raised triangular detail on the added turret armour, and an improvement that still needs to be made is to add some detail to the holes in the turret roof. The instructions are easy to follow with the possible exception of when adding the bar armour to the turret as it could be clearer.

I have lowered the percentage score this model received during the in-box review for no other reason than the push out marks that need filling, but I do still believe that with the option of the added armour package or dozer blade, plus the extra effort Trumpeter have put into the turret, make it worth buying. All they need to do now is improve the hull of the tank to the same extent as the turret and this model will be excellent.

SUMMARY
Highs: The injection moulded bar armour is a joy to use, and the kit generally is much improved upon compared to Trumpeters earlier Challenger 2's. The option of using the Pearson dozer blade or frontal armour is a very great inclusion.
Lows: Trumpeter have improved their mouldings, but still suffer ejector pin marks in some places, and while improved and much smaller than on some of their other offerings they are a nuisance.
Verdict: This is an improved Challenger 2 from Trumpeter incorporating injection moulded bar armour, and a redesigned turret with anti-slip coating. I highly recommend adding it to your collection.
Percentage Rating
85%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 01522
  Suggested Retail: £25.99
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Feb 06, 2011
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 87.16%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 84.63%

About Darren Baker (CMOT)
FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH WEST, UNITED KINGDOM

I have been building model kits since the early 70ís 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 70ís, 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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Comments

Great to see your build review for this one Darren, been looking forward to this one
FEB 05, 2011 - 09:15 PM
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