The Churchill Mk.III with Ordnance QF 75mm Gun is AFV Club’s latest kit in the Churchill series. This variant was produced following the success of the "NA75" (North Africa) conversions in which Churchill Mark IIIs had been fitted with the US 75 mm gun, and which saw service in Italy. To emulate that conversion, Royal Ordnance enlarged the bore of their existing 6pdr to allow it to use the US armour piercing 75mm round, while the gun could still be fitted into the existing Churchill turret without any further adaptation.
AFV Club have already released several variants of Churchill tank: MK.III, Mk.III AVRE, Mk.IV, Mk.V, and Mk.VI. The difference with this kit from the initial Mk.III is that it is equipped with the 75mm gun to replace the standard 6 pounder.
So of course the contents are very close to that of the Mk.III, with the following differences:
- The 6pdr gun is replaced by the 75mm gun, including the gun mount
- Single link tracks are provided instead of the vinyl tracks
- There is an additional photo etched fret for the pannier (with a moulded plastic item as an alternative).
Sprues are as follows:
- A: Lower hull, mud guards
- B: Upper hull assembly, hatches
- C: Sponsons, turret details
- D: x 2 Suspension, wheels
- E: x 2 Sponson details, machine guns
- F: Turret
- G: Photo Etched brass
- H: Clear pieces
- I: Aluminum barrel for 75mm gun
- J: Black nylon string and decal
- K: 22x Metal springs
- P: Lower part of turret (This is not shown on the instruction booklet, which is unused for this kit, except one part “P14”)
- Q: Lower part of turret (Not applicable for this kit)
- R: Additional armor of the sponson
- G2: Photo Etched brass (for pannier attached to the sponson)
- R: Gun mount (Resin part)
- A: Single link tracks
Like the Mark III tank kit, it starts with the suspension assemblies. Of course this is one of the more complicated assemblies, there being 11 pairs of road wheels on each side, which together with the suspension system are fitted into the hull side structures or “panniers”. The panniers consist of 96 parts, and almost a third of the instruction booklet is taken up with their completion. There are some holes that will need to be drilled out for bolt heads.
The complicated suspension and wheel assembly is replicated in the kit with fully working suspension springs. The suspension spring posts slip in to the spring rather than being glued, and act as working shock absorbers. All 11 road wheels and spacers are assembled with the suspension mount (two panels) in one step. This step must be followed very carefully with special attention being paid to which parts are left unglued, otherwise the suspension will not be workable.
The road wheels are then fitted, securing the axle stubs to the suspension arm. Compared with the road wheel, there is no suspension to attach to the drive and idler wheels, so they are much easier to do. There’s no tires on the Churchill tank, so by now we have completed the most complicated tank wheel assembly.
Going to the lower hull, it is very straightforward to glue the assembled suspensions to the lower and rear hull plates, and some small detail parts to the rear hull, so taking another 3 steps to complete the whole lower hull assembly.
Beside the wheel system, another distinguishing feature of the Churchill is the complex fender/mudguard. AFV Club replicate it nicely in all of its complexity with 26 parts just for the mudguard, including the toolboxes and accessories that are mounted on the mudguard. This assembly takes up half of the work required for the upper hull.
One of the features of this kit is the single link track, which is fully articulated after assembly, and thus easier for the modeler to wrap on to the wheel assembly, although it can only be done with the mudguard/fenders off the model.
With the upper and lower hull done, you finally enter the easy part, the turret. It consists of the main gun, co-axial machine gun, two crew hatches (commander and gunner) periscopes and the external armor. Like the periscope on the hull, this item is made of 4 pieces, two of them being clear parts. You can leave the hatches open, and buy the resin figures to put them in. I think that this would greatly enhance the look of the turret.
Four different markings are provided:
• 141st Royal Armoured Crops, 79th Armor Division
• 9th Royal Tank Regiment, 34th Tank Brigade
• 153rd Regiment Royal Armoured Corps, 34th Tank Brigade
• 147th Royal Armoured Corps, 34th Tank Brigade.
Besides Tamiya (Chuchill Mk.VII, and Churchill Crocodile), only AFV Club have released 1/35 scale Churchill tanks as far as I know. As others have commented, it is a very nice kit and worth the wait. The single link track, not often to seen in AFV club products, are a nice touch, and I personally like the look of the welded turret as used in the Mk.III, rather than the cast turret that equipped the Mk.IV.
There is something of a trend that sees newly launched model kits competing with each other over the levels of detail and the number of workable features included. This leads to assembly becoming more and more difficult, and maybe unintentionally putting up hurdles for the new entrant modeler.
Once again, this kit is not for the inexperienced modeler, and I personally found the box art a bit poor compared to the nicely painted box tops for the MK.IV, AVRE and Mk.VI. I will try to buy the crew before starting assembly of the tank.
It is definitely a recommended kit.
Thanks to Mr. Rick Zhang for the review sample.