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 1’s.
The Challenger 2 started to replace the Challenger 1 in mid 1998, with a total of 386 Challenger 2’s 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.
have now manufactured a model of the Challenger 2 in one of it’s latest armour configurations, with the first rendition of bar armour being provided in injection moulded plastic.
Before I list the contents it is worth mentioning that Trumpeter has done an excellent job of packaging this kit. The packaging not only protects the model parts against outside forces via a very stiff cardboard box, but also prevents any movement of the product inside the box reducing the risk of damage even further.
Inside the sturdy box are the following:
• 8 light grey plastic sprues.
• Turret top and base.
• The tub.
• The hull.
All of the above are packaged in their own plastic bags with the exception of two sprues which contain the wheels and suspension parts. All plastic parts are moulded using a light grey plastic. The hull and tub are packed in an internal box area to prevent movement.
• A small PE fret.
• Poly caps for the wheels and main gun elevation.
• 24 printed individual MRE boxes.
• A decal sheet covering four vehicles.
• Rubber band type tracks.
• A glossy colour guide which also shows decal locations for one vehicle.
• A 16 page booklet of instructions.
• A length of copper cable.
The instructions are supplied in a 16 page booklet, which cover the building of the Challenger 2 in 30 stages. The instructions cover these stages in a line drawing format with no stage being overly cluttered which could lead to mistakes being made. I have not been able as yet to identify any errors in the instructions, and my research for this review has not highlighted any issues either.
Tub, Suspension, and Wheels:
The tub for this model is nicely detailed on the bottom and sponsons, most of this detail will not be seen when the model is finished depending on how you choose to display it. The wheels and suspension parts all look to be accurate and when added should make this area look suitably busy. My research for this review indicates that the tub, suspension, and wheels are from one of Trumpeters earlier models and this may lead to some fit issues. An inspection of the parts revealed no obvious issues other than some heavy push out marks on some parts which should mostly, if not all, be hidden during construction, and some very light mould seams.
Hull and Photo Etch:
The hull is, I believe, a new moulding as it has an anti slip surface replicated, I do not believe this was replicated on Trumpeters earlier Challenger offerings. The anti slip surface is very light and will take careful painting to prevent this detail being obscured. The detail looks good and is free from all imperfections in my model. The small PE fret consists of only 10 pieces with the most surprising thing for me about it is that the 2 main PE pieces are to replicate the front mud guards. The PE is on the heavy side and so may be a little difficult to work with.
The only recycled mouldings in this model appears to be the earlier mentioned items, and so the turret and its base are an improvement of Trumpeters earlier offerings. The turret has a light anti-slip surface replicated and so again carful application of paint is a must, and all other detail looks good with one exception which is the commander’s periscopes. These items would have benefited from being made in a clear plastic and thus being a separate item, however this would have increased the price of the model which in these days is a big consideration. Detail has been included on the base of the turret at the rear, this is a surprise due to the inability to view this area unless the turret is displayed 90 degrees to the hull.
I suspect this is the area that most people are interested in and I do not believe this model will disappoint. The bar armour is obviously too thick to be accurate, but to my knowledge is the first and only kit to date to include it, and it is my belief that it will be acceptable to most modellers. The only alternative is PE bar armour which, while more accurate scale wise, requires a very high degree of ability and nimble fingers to make it look right. It is my belief that this kit offers the ability to include reasonable looking bar armour on a build to the masses, and for the modeller to be happy with the result.
The side armour is also very well replicated and well detailed. I have seen people complaining about push out marks on this model, well unless I have been very lucky I don’t see this issue with this model because what there is are small and should be hidden on the finished model with the exception of the earleir mouldings being used. I do accept that I may have missed some problems that will be discovered when I start to build the model, and if that occurs I will update this review.
The cheek armour for the turret does have an issue that will need correcting, at the top of each panel there is a moulded triangle which needs to be removed as they represent warning triangle decals. You can see these moulded triangles in the close ups of the cheek armour panels, I suggest removal using a chisel with the cutting bevel of the blade flush against the panel.
The main gun is nicely detailed and it appears will look the part if used, it does however look a little thin. There have been discussions on the web referencing this perceived problem and possible replacements for the barrel, my opinion of the barrel has been formed only by use of a Mk 1 eyeball and is subject to change when viewed on the model.
The tracks are a concern in this model and not because of concerns over accuracy. The tracks feel very flimsy and I have concerns over their survivability once paint and various weathering compounds are applied, I am also concerned that depending on how well they fit may snap if taut. The accuracy issues over tracks are, I believe, a matter of which vehicle you decide to build and use of reference material for that vehicle. There are people who have said that these tracks are not, and have never been, used on a Challenger 2 with this armour package only to have a picture show up which says otherwise. I can only say choose your vehicle with care and utilise all the reference material you can find.
A five angle colour print is provided of one of four possible models that can be built, and depicts the vehicle that has been photographed by Pete Barrett (a link is provided to this picture set at the end of the review). This does lead to a possible issue regarding the use of the other decals provided in the box pertaining to their location and accuracy. The paint chart lists colours from Mr Hobby, Vallejo, Model Master, Tamiya, and Humbrol, a full match for the colours is only listed for Mr Hobby.
Despite the concerns I have raised over this model, both real and imagined, it is the first offering I have seen from Trumpeter that if I didn’t know better could be mistaken for a DML offering. Yes in my opinion the moulding quality is that good, and despite my concerns I have no fear of highly recommending this model to anyone. The model scores very well in all areas with the possible exception of the tracks, which may be me being overly cautious or critical, an answer to which I will not have until I build the model. I have scored this model very highly and if problems are found during the build I will reassess that mark.
The pictures taken by Pete Barrett of one of the versions included in the box, and is the vehicle displayed in the painting guide, can be found Here
And a blog by Thomas Stefanus can be viewed Here on Armorama