Airfix have followed their recent Bedford MWD with another 1/48 WWII truck, the Albion 3-Point Fueller. This kit is more specifically oriented to airfield usage than the Bedford, being specifically an aircraft refuelling tanker, the 3-Point referring to its ability to fuel three aircraft simultaneously. It is however an unusual looking truck that may well interest any military vehicle modeller, and then there is always the conversion potential. As far as I can tell, the only previous kit of this vehicle was a 1/76 resin kit by Matador.
Albion was a Scottish vehicle manufacturer based in Glasgow, founded in 1899; in 1934 they won a contract to supply the Air Ministry with trucks based on their model 463, hence the designation of the subject of this kit, AM463. This was a 2 ton, 4x2 truck with a 12ft wheelbase powered by a 65.5bhp 4 cylinder engine. Over 400 fuel tankers of this type were supplied to the RAF, with Albion manufacturing a total of around 1900 vehicles on this chassis for military use, including examples fitted out as General Service cargo flat beds, vans, cranes, and most commonly, ambulances. As with so many early war British military vehicles, a number of AM463s were abandoned in France in 1940, some inevitably falling into German hands.
The usual Airfix top opening all colour box (with modelling tips on the lower half) features artwork of the tanker fuelling up a Hurricane in the background, while a couple of others come into land. The A4 colour instruction booklet features 53 steps over 12 pages. 105 pieces are moulded in the now standard very pale and virtually matt grey plastic, with another 8 in clear plastic.
- Sprue A: wheels, cab, hoses, engine
- Sprue B: tanker components
- Sprue C: chassis frame, suspension springs
- Sprue D: various body and engine details
- Sprue E: clear glazing and lamp lenses
- Decal sheet by Cartograph: Royal Air Force, 1940, also includes dashboard dials and tanker gauge dials.
Instructions are in the new Airfix style, being very comprehensive indeed: red shading illustrates the final position of the component located in the previous step, so there’s none of those arrows pointing vaguely at the underside of something that is never shown, and the assembly sequence for each component is strictly ordered – everything is clear.
As this kit only builds into the tanker version, we plunge straight into construction with the chassis, clutch and gearbox coming together on page 3. Page 4 covers the start of the engine, the differential, prop shaft and front axle – so we’re getting a fair amount of detail packed in here, and then page 5 brings in the vehicle fuel tank, a nice looking cylinder head with lots of bolts, the fan belt, exhaust and manifold, with detail close-up insets provided where needed.
The separate hard plastic tyres and wheel hubs come together on page 6, with the option for setting the front wheels at an angle, then we’re on to the cab base and front and rear bulkheads plus dash and steering wheel. Here we see an example of parts with detailing on both sides, with the engine side of the bulkhead including a bit of cabling and rivet detail while the cab side has the bracing around the dash; ejector pins are relatively small and carefully located to be unobtrusive. Page 7 completes the cab and mounts it on the wheeled chassis. It’s now looking like it could be turned into some kind of hot rod… but instead we start on the fuelling valve assembly that sits in a compartment behind the big fuel tank, and then the tank itself goes together in three main parts.
After the tank and valve gear is mounted on the chassis on page 9, the engine compartment is boxed in with the sidewalls, bonnet and the big Greek temple shaped radiator grille that includes fan detailing on the back, while the front features Albion’s rising sun design (“Sure as the Sunrise”). It seems a little unfortunate that given the nice engine detail, no provision is designed in for enabling the engine compartment to be displayed open. There are however options for having both cab and valve compartment doors open or closed on page 10, while page 11 shows options for configuring the fuel lines in three different positions, both stowed and reaching out to aircraft.
Finally on page 12 a full colour painting guide is provided: a light olive / dark green camouflage. A single set of markings is provided, including a registration plate and a stencilled “230” for the side of the tanker.
There is no flash, just the usual subtle mould lines. Airfix have the nice habit of reducing the sizes of attachment points as the components themselves reduce in size, and parts that protrude from the sprues are provided with bumpers to protect them from being broken off accidentally.
Several parts, as has been noted, are fairly well detailed on both sides without any particularly noticeable ejector pin blemishes. The cab interior, the engine and the chassis are all pretty finely detailed; a nice example is A13, the clutch case with its toothed edge and intricate cover, and there’s plenty of what looks to be realistically scaled bolt and rivet detail across many components.
For some reason, this time the tall and somewhat square section cross ply tyres are perfect circles, without the road contact flattening that was a feature of the Bedford MWD kit. It is noticeable that the tread pattern is a somewhat basic impression, which doesn’t fully represent the deep tread that would be seen on tyres of this type.
Perhaps there’s mild disappointment that there are no options to produce a flat bed or an ambulance, but there is a slightly tantalising instruction note that some parts may be included that are not required to build the model shown... There is of course conversion potential, and the way the chassis and cargo area is designed should facilitate that kind of adventure.
As far as I can tell from this brief examination, this new release seems to have the modern Airfix quality of being well designed and executed, and provided with quite decent levels of detail for this scale. Comprehensive and clear instructions, and the likelihood of a precise fit mean that this reasonably complex kit for its size will still be an easy build. Perhaps seeming to have less obvious potential for the non-aircraft modeller in comparison to its Airfix predecessor the MWD, I think it nevertheless has an appeal of its own due to its quite characterful appearance: a very sturdy small truck with big wheels and a clear 1930s heritage. Once again Airfix seem to be providing decent value for money as this 118mm x 45mm, 113 part model costs just over ten pounds.