The Saladin Armoured Car is one of the most recognisable British wheeled military vehicles from the post-war era. This six-wheeled armoured car was originally designed in 1947 to replace the 4x4 AEC Armored Car of World War II vintage, but due to a protracted development did not come into service until 1958. Production continued until 1972 and as well as use by the British Army it was widely exported to all corners of the world, it was used in combat in the Dhofar conflict in Oman, by Kuwaiti forces defending against the Iraqi invasion of 1990, and many other small conflicts, coups and counter-insurgencies around the world in the last five decades.
Although several 1:76 scale models of the Saladin have been released over the years, most notably the injection-moulded kit from J.B.Models, now part of the Airfix 1:76 range, there has not to the best of my knowledge been an accurate 1:72 kit of this most important post-war vehicle until now, with this new 1:72 resin release from OKB Grigorov.
The OKB Grigorov kit comes in a small box, but initial impressions are highly deceptive. This box contains 175 resin pieces and 105 etched metal parts - an astounding amount of parts for a vehicle that is less than 7cm long in this scale!
Resin parts include clear resin and colored translucent red and green resin for lights. Tyres are provided in a softer more rubbery material.
Detailed instructions are included, but no decals are provided.
OKB Grigorov has a well-deserved reputation for not compromising on quality with their 1:72 kits and this is clearly borne out by the part count. Clearly this is not a quick build kit.
OKB Grigorov design their kits on computer and use high-end 3d printing services to produce their masters - to produce parts that have delicate detail to the limit of unaided vision.
On opening the box the task of building this kit does look somewhat intimidating. If you have not built resin kits before, or if you are looking for something to make over a weekend, then this is not the kit for you. This kit will require a great investment of time.
A good example of the complexity in this kit is the suspension units - which take up no less than sixteen tiny resin parts to assemble, along with five small etched metal parts and some pieces of wire (that you must provide) - for each of the six wheel units - and this isn't even counting the wheel and the hub! Certainly many people will regard this as over complicated - especially as once built very little of the suspension is visible behind the wheels. But, you'll know it's there even if no-one else can see it!
The Saladin is quite an angular vehicle, which makes it relatively easy to capture correctly in plastic form, so it was not really a big surprise to find the hull and turret match pretty well against both scale plans and photographs of the real vehicle. The turret has indentations moulded in for mounting items such as aerial brackets which are not seen on every vehicle - so you may need to fill in some of these if you are building a specific vehicle.
And of course, if you are building a specific vehicle then the lack of suitable decals is going to be a problem, especially as you aren't going to want to hand-paint intricate British Army number plates nor use an imaginary scheme on such a highly accurate kit. There are a couple of options - the decals provided with the JB Models 1:76 Saladin kit (now part of the Airfix range) might be usable - although I haven't actually got them in my hand confirm this. The alternative is to go for one of the many foreign users of the Saladin and find something that is easier to depict - but beware when searching the internet for images, there are lots of Saladins now in private hands, and the details and paint/marking schemes on many of them will not be 100% authentic.
Scale wise, the hull works out at 67mm length, when the turret and 76mm gun are fitted to the end of the barrel it measures at 74mm. The distance between each wheel mounting point is 22mm. Taking Profile Publication's AFV Weapons 27 - The Saladin Armored Car as a reference point it lists the length of the hull as 4.93m (68.4mm in 1:72), so our kit is slightly under scale at approximately 1:73.5, the length to end of barrel as 5.284m (73.3mm in 1:72) - which is quite accurate for the scale. The wheel spacing is 1.524m in real life (21mm in 1:72). When compared with the scale drawings in the Profile Publication it appears that everything is in proportion and scaled pretty well.
Despite the enormous number of parts there are some things that could have been included but haven't. There is no external .30cal machine gun, for example, although this was not fitted to every vehicle. There has been no attempt to depict the characteristic dust jacket that protects where the barrel meets the mantlet, but maybe this is for the best as it is better depicted by the modeller using materials such as tissue paper and wood glue. And even though the driver's vision blocks are separate parts there is no possibility of opening the driver's hatch (the hull is a solid block of resin). Similarly, the solid block turret precludes the possibility of opening either of the turret hatches, which will disappoint many.
Minor gripes aside, for those who wish to have a stunning quality replica of this important vehicle in their collections and who are prepared to devote the effort needed to finish it correctly, this kit is a true masterpiece. Parts are free of all but the thinnest and lightest flash on some parts, but some parts are very, very small. Magnification, great patience and a steady hand are essential here.
There is no doubt that this has the potential to be one of the very best 1:72 kits ever made - if you can handle it as it's possibly the most complicated 1:72 kit I have ever laid hands on. OKB Grigorov are to be congratulated with producing such a kit, and even though it will inevitably take blood, sweat and tears to build, the end result will surely be worth it.
Highs: Unparalleled level of detail. Important vehicle, first time produced in 1:72 scale.
Lows: Complexity will put off many less experienced modellers. No decals
Verdict: One of the best 1:72 resin/mixed media kits ever produced.
About Jolyon Ralph (jolyonralph) FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH EAST, UNITED KINGDOM
I've been building models since I was six years old. Currently I build 1:72 scale armor, Russian/Soviet/Chinese/Communist Block things in particular, although I also have a fascination with Japanese tanks WW2 and before. Obscure prototypes and one-offs are my particular favourite!