by: UncaBret [ ]
IntroductionThe British in North Africa realized a need for anti-aircraft capability mobile enough to keep up with rapidly moving armored and infantry units. As a result, the Crusader was chosen as it had been replaced in front line service by tanks that were more capable. The Mk III AA tank was armed with two 20mm Oerlikon cannons, replacing the single 40mm Bofors of the earlier Mk I. By the time the Crusader Mk III AA was deployed in Europe however, the Allies had taken almost total control of the air. The firepower of the twin 20mms, which could have quite an effect on infantry and lightly armored vehicles, still found a use in the close support role. This kit #32546 from Tamiya represents a Mk III AA in 1/48 scale.
ContentsThe kit consists of four trees of parts molded in dark green plastic for the vehicle and one small tree of parts in light grey for the crew figures, four poly caps, two screws, a die-cast chassis, decal sheet, and a length of string for the tow cable. The box, catalog and website all list the kit as having four crew figures, but there is a fifth figure included; a civilian, that makes for an added bonus. The figures are the same as those packaged in the British Infantry set and are fairly well sculpted for the scale and have natural, relaxed poses.
ReviewThe plastic parts are very cleanly cast with no flash to speak of. Details are also very clean and crisp with raised rivets, panel lines, latches, etc. all very well defined. The die-cast chassis, on the other hand, is devoid of any detail. Of course, by the time the wheels, tracks and sand guards are put on, you won't be able to tell, but it's still rather plain all the same.
Some pieces, such as headlight guards, would be considered by many to need PE replacement as they are a bit thick. Considering that this is 1/48 scale, they would not look bad for an OOB build. I did take the time to test fit some of the major components, mainly the turret halves and hull/chassis, and it was no surprise that the pieces fit together with no problem, pretty much standard for Tamiya.
The decals are also standard for Tamiya and are nicely printed but somewhat thick. The markings provided allow for two vehicle options;
1st Royal Tank Regt., 22nd Armored Brg., 7th Armored Div.
1st Armored Div., Free Polish Forces, August 1944
One key advantage in the decal design is the fact that the air recognition star is comprised of seven pieces to accommodate the uneven turret roof. This will aid in application on complex surfaces but it's probably a good idea to trim them fairly close before applying.
The instruction sheet is broken down into 18 individual steps in typical Tamiya fashion and they are clearly written and very easy to follow. Steps 1 - 17 involve construction of the vehicle while step 18 covers construction and painting of the crew figures. The three parts for the civilian are actually listed as "Not used" along with 14 other parts, so there are some spare parts for the spares bin as well. Also included are parts for the external fuel tank and, although the instructions do not show an option for mounting this, I have seen photos showing it in use on Crusader AA's.
ConclusionAll in all, this appears to be a nice kit that is well detailed and easy to build. The inclusion of the five figures is a nice touch, something I wish Tamiya would do with all of their kits.