by: Benjamin de Groot [ ]
IntroductionDuring the inter-war years many armies sought new strategies for employing armor to restore mobility to the battlefield. The Italian army was no different in that respect. Once the country adopted a more aggressive posture in the early `30s, it required forces with more offensive capabilities. The first stage in this thinking was the creation of the Divisioni Celeri (Fast Divisions). These multi-arms formations were to be formed of (motorized) Bersaglieri and mounted cavalry (later armored cars), to be supported by tanks and aircraft. The Carro Veloce 33 (Fast Tank model 33) was to fill this gap. Designed on the basis of imported Carden-Lloyd Mk.V chassis, this 3-ton machine was armed with two 6.5mm Fiat machine guns (upgraded to 8mm on the series II) and could reach a “jaw-dropping” 15kmph. The crew was to entertain the illusion of being well protected by a maximum armor thickness of 13.5mm at the front. It’s big trump card was its relatively low production cost, making it available in great numbers.
By the start of World War II, the C.V.33 was as obsolete as the Celeri concept: it was slow, under armed, poorly armored and lacked a turret - the error of which had already become evident in the campaign in Abyssinia. The strategies had been revised long since, but the financial constraints of Fascist Italy meant that the C.V.33 was doomed to soldier on until well into 1942, when it was relegated to security and anti-partisan duties. It saw action in Western Europe, North Africa, the Balkans, Greece and the Soviet Union and was exported to a whole range of nations.
In June 2011 the Italian company Model Victoria released a 1/35 scale resin kit of this little mule, despite there already being a plastic version of the vehicle by Bronco Models, which raises the question: why!?! Well, let me show you why…
contentsI ordered this kit directly from the Model Victoria website and about a week after payment had been received by the company, the kit arrived. It was packaged in a white cardboard shipping box, padded with newspaper and taped securely shut with signature adhesive tape.
The box itself is the typical olive green type with a beige label containing all the info. Inside are twelve Ziploc bags and some loose bits, totaling to:
- One lower hull section
- One upper hull section
- One transmission
- One engine block
- One engine deck
- One rear hull plate
- One fuel tank
- One set of length `n length track consisting of 8 pieces
- 35 sprues holding 105 smaller resin parts
- One fret of photo etch with 46 pieces
- One supply crate of ammunition
- One Italian tanker`s helmet w/ inner detail.
- One figure of a tanker messing with his overall
- One length of thread to make towing cables
- One sheet with decals for 3 versions and decals for the supply box
- One set of instructions in color
You will need to bring some things to the party yourself though: the kit calls for a thin plastic card strip to make the drive belt, stretched sprue to make ignition cables, 0.3mm and 0.5mm brass wire to make some engine plumbing and transparent glue to build the instrument panel. Besides that, a well-stocked toolkit is a necessity. The total parts count comes down to 168 parts in various media, the majority of which is cast in resin on 45 sprues. That may not seem a whole lot by today`s standards, but you have to remember that this kit will hardly be larger than the palm of your hand is wide.
The kitWhen opening the box the quality of this kit just radiates from the parts. The castings are very, very, very crisp with all molded-on detail rendered beautifully. Most parts have relatively small casting blocks so removing those should be quite easy. Some small seams can be seen on areas where a plastic kit would also have mold seams. This is only to be expected and a quick touch-up with sandpaper should be enough to clean those bits up. Parts breakdown is relatively simple and this should allow the building process to be pretty straightforward.
I have been unable to detect any air bubbles in the parts themselves. There are, however, a few casting scars. Most of those can be easily removed without much hassle, but in my example there was a pretty nasty casting scar on the lower side of the engine block. Smoothing that out can be tricky due to the confined space on the part and I expect it to be a delicate job. Still, anyone capable of working with resin should be able to tackle this problem in a dedicated building session.
One of those things that you need to look out for is the small parts. There are so many of those that you`d do best to coat the entire floor in double-sided tape. Thinking of a way to keep them all safe and controlled should be a priority. Besides that, there is some flash that will need removing. Again, it is advisable to work out a plan de campagne before tackling that so you don`t end up removing too much. Finally you will be required to drill out the gun barrels. You have a little room for error here since there are three provided in the box. A fret of photo-etch is provided for small or thin parts. The PE is nicely cut and detailed, yet kept to a minimum.
DecalsThe kit comes with a small decal sheet that has options for two Italian vehicles from Ariete during the 1941 campaign in Libya as well as two balkenkreuze and three green rectangles with a white number “6”, which are not mentioned in the instructions. Going by Tank Power Vol.330, it may have belonged to an anti-partisan unit in Montenegro.
Beside that the sheet has two sets of markings for the supply crate, which is basically blocks of white text in Italian detailing the contents.
InstructionsThe instructions are printed on an A3 sheet of paper folded to make a an A4 booklet. The front page has some info on the C.V.33 in Italian and English as well as instructions for placing the decals. The two innermost pages and the backside have photos detailing the build-up with numbers to indicate which parts are involved as well as the odd description in both Italian and English.
MV lists which colors are needed in two ways. The basic colors needed are all given in Lifecolor names and numbers and smaller objects just have a color description like f.e. “steel”. The whole booklet is printed in color and the print is good quality, so you can see what they mean and stir your own mix if you want to. If there is a downside to them, it would have to be the meager explanation on the markings, with only one set of photos from which you are to gather what goes where. The instructions also give no information as to what the balkenkreuze and green rectangles are for and where they should go.
AccuracyThis is the field where MV always performs well and this little gem is no exception. The high standard of casting mentioned earlier makes for some very nice bolt detail, as well as little surprises like the ansaldo name on the drive sprockets: it is infinitesimally small, but there and crisply cast. The interior parts are nice and smooth and more accurate than the “space filling” provided by Bronco.
The Tank Power vol.330 contains some 1/25 scale line drawings. When brought to approximate scale the kit measures out quite well and also compares pretty well to the angle drawings. Although I have no good scale drawings detailing the width of the vehicle, the conformity with the drawings I DO have and MV`s reputation for quality can in this case be taken as a marker that the kit is dimensionally accurate.
As mentioned on the box this kit depicts the second series production of the C.V.33 and the MV kit gives you the right tool layout as well as the 8mm Fiat mod.14/35 MGs that were the trademark feature of this series. All the details are there where they`re supposed to be. There has been some online discussion about possible inaccuracies in the tracks, but from what I can discern, there are none so if they are present at all, these errors could be considered negligible.
ConclusionThis is one beautiful little kit of a vehicle that usually takes the limelight. It outclasses the Bronco kit in accuracy and detail, especially on the inside. The casting is all very nice and crisp with flash being not overly dramatic and only a few minor casting scars that can be easily smoothed out. The only gripe in this area would be the heavy casting scar on the engine block, but if you don`t plan on opening the engine hatches you could get away with not fixing that issue. Detail-wise the kit is stunningly beautiful, but care must be taken to prevent this detail from being damaged (as I found out the hard way when a mounting arm on the engine block broke off). The kit is very accurate in many ways and the decals offer a choice between two Italian and a German vehicle. The instructions are good and clear, but could profit from more photos of different markings. All in all this is a very detailed kit that only has some minor points which any scale modeler worth his or her salt should be able to handle.