by: Darren Baker [ ]
Major General Percy Hobart was the mastermind behind the series of vehicles collectively known as Hobartís Funnies. Hobartís Funnies were a series of specialist vehicles, usually based on tanks and operated by the Royal Engineers as part of the 79th Armoured Division. The tank which seems to have attracted the most attention for the modifications was the Churchill in its various versions; however the Sherman and the Valentine also received some attention from Major General Percy Hobart.
You have to give AFV Club credit when it comes to finding a little produced Allied tank when it comes to model form, but that has so many different versions, different versions that I expect like I most thought would only be available in resin. AFV Club has taken the Churchill tank to its heart as it has done with the Centurion. AFV Club has then released a large number of Churchill gun tanks and has now moved on to releasing the ĎFunniesí. The latest versions released are the carpet layer, fascine carrier and Ďsnakeí mine clearing tank versions of the Churchill. This review takes a look at the Churchill Mk III TLC laying device and carpet.
This model is supplied in the usual large box popular with AFV Club. The box is very full and getting the various parts back into the box after longingly looking at them is harder than it may at first appear. Below is a list of how the contents break down;
14 green sprues
2 lengths of self-adhesive paper
22 suspension springs
1 clear sprue
2 pairs of vinyl rubber spare track links
2 vinyl rubber track runs
2 photo etched frets
A decal sheet
An instruction booklet
A box top artwork
A look at the parts that make up this model gives me a positive opinion for the most part. The moulded parts appear to be clean and free of moulding faults, except for the top of the turret that does look and feel to have a very light amount of shrinkage that will need attention. The only other issue that could prove to be a problem is that a number of parts have broken free from the sprue carriers, in this sample there is no damage to these parts, but that may not always be the case.
Anyone who has tackled one of AFV Clubís Churchill tank models will be in familiar territory with the hull, wheel and suspension components of this model. The hull is made up of a series of flat detailed parts that attach to the hulls side walls, it is this approach by AFV Club that has made it financially viable to offer so many variants of the Churchill tank, I believe. The suspension is workable on this model, so if you have not tackled one of these before the model can be depicted on an uneven base and be presented in a realistic manner. One of the issues of the running gear that I have been made aware of is the drive wheels, these lack the holes that sit between the cogs and allow muck that gets in through the side holes on the wheels to clear. This issue can be tackled in a couple of ways, you could drill out the detail on kit parts, but if you are concerned about the thickness the other option is provided by Inside the Armour who provided an after-market solution. While on the subject of Inside the Armour, they also offer a full interior for both hull and turret and even an engine and its bay. I will say that seeing this detail is not easy and so really does come down to how much accuracy is enough for you as a modeller. The suspension is a very realistic reproduction of the area of the real model.
The tracks provided with this model are the vinyl rubber type; yes I know why, have that not provided the individual workable tracks? I believe the answer is simple to that question, there is no room in the box for them and they are available separately for about £15. I am informed that the workable track links represent the same tracks as the vinyl rubber tracks depict, just better. As such I am not going to criticise AFV Club for supplying the vinyl tracks as some will prefer them for their ease of use, for everyone else pick up a set of the workable tracks. The spare track links are also vinyl rubber and that is something I am not keen on.
A few features on the hull that I do like are the hatches and the exhaust. Every hatch cover can be displayed open, a nice touch if you are tempted by an interior. The exhausts are very nice having been supplied hollow rather than solid and so needing to be drilled out by the modeller. The covers for the exhausts are also supplied separately, another aspect that I like. This model representing a vehicle that will land off of a boat has wading stacks, these parts have been very nicely reproduced using slide moulding techniques. The bracing for holding the stacks in position are also very nicely done and I donít believe that they will be easily improved upon. The modeller also has the option of showing the wading stacks being removed or off of the tank depending on what you are looking to represent.
The track guards are supplied in a series of parts for each run and due to this approach the modeller has the option of adding all, some or none of them to the model. The detail is good in this area in my opinion.
The main gun of this tank has been replaced with the 290mm Petard spigot mortar, this weapons system was no intended for tank on tank combat, but if you were hiding in a concrete bunker it was a weapons system you would regret seeing. The detail of mortar supplied with the model is excellent in my opinion, detail that even allows you to show it with a round in or out of the weapon and even provides for the barrel to be displayed in a loading position. Included in the kit are two mortar rounds with good detail. The turret itself is fairly simplistic, but that is not to say inaccurate. The general shape and detail present looks to be very good to me. As mentioned previously the hatches can all be shown open or closed and do have detail on both sides of the hatches. The shrink marks I mentioned at the start of the review are minimal and I believe easily fixed; as I have not heard any other complaints about this I can only believe that it is a rare occurrence rather than a regular issue. The sink marks are around the periscope mounts. As I said before I do believe this to be a rare fault with products from AFV Club.
The carpet laying device included with the model does look to be a very good match with pictorial reference, the only area I cannot vouch for is the interior detail of the spool as I could not find reference for this aspect. Perhaps the most surprising part of this device is that AFV Club has you cutting up the box for three parts of the interior and it is these card parts that the supplied mat attaches to. The mat itself is included in the kit, a very good inclusion and approved of step by by me from AFV Club. The mat is made up of two lengths of self-adhesive paper and AFV Club have supplied wooden braces to be trapped in between the paper, my only issue with this is that all the images I have seen of the real vehicle show hollow poles and not wood, even the artwork on the box shows poles rather than wood. I will also add that the poles run the full width of the material in the pictures not stepped on opposite sides as I have seen mentioned. The wood in my case will be replaced with aluminium tubing as while I cannot say the wood is wrong I cannot find evidence of it, I have included an image of the metal tubing I will be using.
Despite the small issues I found with the model I am very impressed with what AFV Club have presented us with here. I already have a small diorama planned for this tank nearly out of the sea and onto the beach, the mat starting to be laid out and perhaps a couple of British or Canadian troops using it for cover, as any self-respecting soldier would. This really is an impressive looking model judging from the parts.