by: Nikos Brestas [ ]
The Israeli Defence Force has the tendency to let nothing go to waste. So they came up with a number of uses for their Centurion tank hulls, after they were phased out from use. One of the vehicles is the Puma, which is an acronym for Poretz Mokshim Handasati (minefield break through vehicle), in use by the Combat Engineer Corps or Heil HaHandasa HaKravit. The Puma's role is to provide protection and fire support for the Engineers as they clear paths through minefields or during other frontline tasks. The latest version of the Puma is the Puma Batash, with improved armored modules and enhanced crew protection. Legend Productions has released two sets on the subject, the first one is set no. 1360 which provides the parts for updating the Hobby Boss kit to the basic Batash Version and the second one is set no. 1364, which offers the additional Doghouse type superstructure seen on some vehicles. The following is an in box review of kit no 1360.
The set comes in the standard Legend Production black box. There are three zip lock bags and two pages of the now typical color photo instructions. The first bag contains lengths of 0.5mm brass wire for the cage armor and other details. The second bag contains three photo etch frets with the cage armor supports and various details and the last bag contains the resin parts for the new side skirts, a hatch cover, the side skirt spring mounts and other details.
The instructions are quite clear and easy to assess, but some good reference photos might prove useful, especially for defining the correct positioning, alignment or orientation of the parts I found the Facebook page of the Israeli Combat Engineer Corps very useful.
Starting off with the 0.5mm brass wire lengths, it might have been better to provide straight wire lengths and not curved pieces, but this can be straightened without much effort. The longest length of wire required in the instructions is 47mm and the supports will help hold the wire in place. The instructions suggest placing the brass wire between hard and flat panels and then rolling the upper plate to straighten the wire.
The three photo etch frets come in the same thickness. The part attachment points on all of the frets are quite small and the parts seem easy to be removed cleanly from the frets. The instructions call for duplicate part placement when the part thickness is larger than that of the provided frets, e.g. the front mudguard upper panels or the rear mounting rack for water canisters. Take in mind that the kit supplied photo etch parts are also needed, there are no replacements for them provided in the set.
The first fret provides the supports for the bar armor at the rear half of the vehicle. The second fret supplies the front mudguards, the exhaust deflector covers and the rear side skirt bar armor frames. The third and smaller fret provides duplicate parts for the front mudguard upper panels and a number of small attachment points for ropes and belts, which I personally find them difficult to use because of how tiny they are and how difficult it is to fold them correctly.
The detail in all the resin parts is crisp and there is no flash to be found on any of the pieces or bubbles. The casting is perfect and even the bigger parts are straight. The pouring blocks do not run to the entire length of the part but there are several attachment points the have to be cut off. One drawback is that on most pieces there are pouring blocks on the back of the pieces that require attention and could prove time consuming to remove and sand.
The biggest resin parts provided in this set are the extra side armor modules of the vehicle’s superstructure. The detail is superb and even the chain lengths attached to each block are supplied. There are some casting lines on the bottom of part 6 but these will be hidden when the part is attached to the superstructure. The mounting points for the armor blocks are provided in separate parts. A total of 22 is required, but there are some spares provided, since the carpet monster will find the small resin pieces quite tasteful. There are also four separate armor blocks provided, one for each side of the vehicle.
The Batash specific side skirts are provided in three resin parts and the rear bar armored frame is supplied in photoetch, as previously mentioned. The leaf spring mounts have their middle part cast with the side skirts and the springs are provided in separate parts, with the exception of the middle side skirt panels, that have the leaf springs cast together. The spring might be a little tricky to remove from the casting block and certainly require attention.
The rest of the resin parts included is a hatch cover and its mounts and the usual resin bolt heads supplied in most Legend sets. The hatch is not a Batash specific modification, but found on most of the Puma vehicles and has been included previously in set no 1328 IDF PUMA Late Type Update set.
Legend Productions continues their line of IDF subjects with this excellent looking set. They have invested a lot of time and effort on IDF vehicles and the Puma must be one of their favourites, since there are so many sets already covering most of the versions and equipment found on the vehicle. I would have appreciated it if the set offered the belly armor seen on the Batash version, but the size and complexity of the casting might result in a very expensive product. This set requires some time and effort, mainly due to the bar armor but no major kit part modification is required, since all Batash parts are additions to the vehicle. Highly recommended to all IDF modelling enthusiasts.