Oct 15
Robodaz

Available from Hobbylink Japan: http://hlj.com/product/TKO2027/Mil

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The Iron Horse Rides to War…

When the aging Centurion was up for replacement, the British required a tank which, as I stated in the unboxing, could go toe-to-toe with Russia’s developing line of MBTs. In this regard, a vehicle was sought to carry the Royal Ordanance  L11 120mm rifled main gun, as this was deemed capable of reliably disabling enemy tanks at ranges in excess of 2000m, with the idea that enemy tanks would not be able to return fire effectively at such distances.

The gun also had the advantage of being able to fire both conventional, rifled rounds (HE, and the likes) as well as fin-stabilized anti-tank rounds.

The Leyland Motor Company had begun work on a replacement for their Centurion in 1957, but when the gun specs were announced by the MOD, it put the company in a bit of a tight spot. The ideal, based on the success of the Centurion, was speed on the battlefield. However, knowing that their proposed chassis and engine would be overloaded by the gun and required armor, Leyland proposed that, as a tank designed for an exclusively defensive war, armor and gun range would be more important than a few extra MPH in the final analysis.

The Chieftain was a heavy tank at the time, and came in at just over 60 tons – a struggle for the 585-horsepower diesel engine initially installed – and still a challenge for the 650-horsepower multi fuel engine which was retrofitted in later marks.

However, as Leyland hoped, the low cross-country speed of 25-30MPH was more than compensated by the ability to mount, control, and fire the 120mm gun which the MOD so desired in their new tank. This fact, plus Leyland’s confident assertion that the vehicle could be uprated and improved over time, won the Chieftain a large-scale trial, including the loan of vehicles to allied nations for under-fire testing.

As it went into service, even with its mobility flaws, the Chieftain rapidly gained a fearsome reputation for range of engagement and accuracy of fire, making it the most formidable of modern MBTs right up to the development of the Challenger and Abrams. This made it a serious player in the international arms market, with many Middle Eastern countries adopting the design.

This was critically important.

Because of these overseas sales, the Chieftain saw a good deal of combat over the decades, and all the data made available from this gave the various marks a series of important upgrades which not only extended the life of the tank into the 1990s as a practical vehicle, but actually allowed it to serve as the test bed for some of the technologies which eventually went into its Challenger replacement.

For folks of my age, I think there is no other tank which is is so quintessentially ‘British.’

The Build

Takom has developed a reputation, perhaps as a result of having to compete with Dragon in Hong Kong and Tamiya overseas for a range of well-molded, and rather unusual kits, such as Object 279, The Tadpole, and the St. Chamond.

This is my first Takom build, and I am very eager to see if the money invested (for these are not cheap-and-cheerful kits) is justified.

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I like the wheel assemblies right off the bat.

One could argue that they are a little ‘fiddly,’ but once they are together, the logic of the build is clear. The suspension does not move but that is not an issue, and the whole system is well realized.

And the styrene (a common bugbear with me) is of high quality, sucking up cement like a sponge and cutting like wax.

In that regard, the kit was also totally free of flashing, though we might well expect no less from a modern mold these days.

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It did take a couple of hours to reach this point, but I am glad I took my time. There are so many flimsy elements in this section (from wheel rings to suspension arms) that a clumsy hand on the snips could have had caused disaster…

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Speaking of disaster… TRACK LINKS…

19065-rage

Well, not quite that bad, but I’ve never had to tackle individual links before…

They seemed quite daunting to begin with, but I soon worked out a decent system, thanks to the owner of the local model shop.

A spot of double sided tape down on the table, and I assembled the links in groups of 5-10, before running a small amount of liquid poly into each seam (Tamiya normal, as it cements slowly and gives 10-20 mins of reasonable flexibility. I then fitted each section to the wheels, cementing as I went.

A doddle, in the end… And, once an hour or so was up, the tracks were as tough as you’d like.

Grand stuff.

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I doubt I can go back to rubber tracks after this…

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The detailing on the hull is, as you can see, as good as one might expect from the comparable Tamiya kit.

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Nice to see brass-etched parts as a standard.

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Basic paint job here: Undercoating in neutral grey, blocking out in black down main seams, then coating with British Army Green, cut 60% X20A thinner to 40% paint for light coating. In the end, three full coats (and some further attention as required) were needed.

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I’ve been using Tamiya Weathering Master extensively on this kit, trying all the different effects as needed.

Only went for some light weathering here, to suggest long-term, low grade wear, and it seems to have passed off quite well.

The only places I did not use Weathering Master were the tracks and underside. There I treated the lot with Mr. Hobby Weathering Rust oil wash before wiping down. Note: This stuff takes a while to dry compared to acrylic washes. However, it remains workable for a good, long while.

Also, once all the other effects had dried, and before varnishing, I ran a weak solution of Tamiya Smoke, cut 50/50 with thinner over the whole lot, and drybrushed it back with white when dry. Very, very lightly though – just see where I needed to add a few touches with either rust, or steel powders.

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I’m still a little up in the air about this kit.

Certainly it is a grand thing, and went together well, but for the money I had really hoped for some crew figures and perhaps a little interior detail.

Not that Tamiya does much in that regard, AND theit own 1/35 Chieftain is showing its age now… However, there’s is a good deal cheaper.

That being said, I do have a soft spot of this kit. In general construction terms, it is exceptional, and until Tamiya decides to upgrade its own model, it has to be the best mk5 out there in 1/35.

Whether it is worth the price? That I still cannot say.

Dr. Robodaz
 

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