If youíve seen Trumpeterís Centauro kits, youíll know that theyíre among the companyís best products. Arguably theyíre among the best of any companyís products, with their fine detailing and the use of layered parts to capture the complexity of the real thing. But they lack a metal barrel so, like most kits with plastic ones, there are seams to deal with. RB Model of Poland has produced a nice, but not perfect, replacement.
In the package you get a one-piece aluminum barrel, three brass fittings for the two ends, and two small brass PE frets carrying the straps for the thermal sleeve and parts for the foresight (or ďmuzzle reference systemĒ if you prefer). You get no instructions; for those, you need to look on RBís website. You quickly find that assembly is straightforward and that there are a few spare bits on the PE, which is always nice.
First thing to note is that RBís barrel is more accurately proportioned than Trumpeterís. Itís slightly longer (the photo exaggerates the difference) and slightly thicker at all points, which matches the heft of the original. The first three sections out from the mantlet are all longer, so that the bore evacuator is further forward; the collar behind that is less pronounced; and the main portion of the thermal sleeve has a fine engraved groove to represent where the sections join. However, the corresponding gap in the fatter sleeve section just ahead of the evacuator is missing.
RB provides a brass ring for the collar between the mantlet and the barrel. This is very finely formed but the scalloped rebates in it appear to be too narrow. Trumpeterís collar is integral with the barrel, but it looks more like the real thing. Just forward of that, the first section of the barrel ends in another prominent collar, which on the metal barrel isnít quite prominent enough; again, Trumpeter has the slight edge here.
Where the Centauroís gun differs from most others is the muzzle brake. The external multi-baffle section conceals a pepper pot arrangement set slightly back from the actual muzzle, which is all fiendishly complex. Trumpeter and RB have taken different approaches to depicting this. Trumpeter provides a perforated PE part (bottom left on the picture of the fret) that wraps around a core thatís an integral part of the barrel halves. To this you add a two-piece plastic muzzle brake, split vertically. RB, on the other hand, has drilled the pepper pot directly into the turned barrel, and then provides a two-piece muzzle brake comprising the bulk of the item as one part, then the forward collar as another. As far as I can tell both methods have nice evenly spaced perforations. RBís depiction is more accurate, technically speaking, and you can see right through the perforations (!); the plastic core in Trumpeterís barely matters, though, because it will be invisible within the other parts. RBís will also result in less seam work and will save you the trouble of bending quite thick PE to a perfectly round shape. However, the fit of the muzzle brake onto the barrel is tight, and you have to persuade it past a small lip to get it into position (the lip is then concealed under the forward collar). Once on, I doubt itís coming off, so you need to be very careful about aligning it correctly before applying glue.
As you might expect, thereís no rifling in Trumpeterís muzzle. There is in RBís. It goes quite deep Ė thereís a lot of swarf to clean out if youíre that way inclined Ė but the grooves have no twist; they just lie along the line of the barrel. Obviously itís difficult to get a milling machine into such a small space, but I would have preferred shallower rifling with a more convincing turn.
Six of RBís PE parts give you the foresight and its mounting strap, after the usual very fiddly folding and applying of diminutive parts. At this point youíll be very glad there are spares. Trumpeterís foresight is integral with the barrel halves. Itís actually very good, with a few nice little bolts that are missing from the PE version, but it will leave a seam to deal with.
The rest of the PE parts are the straps, of various styles, that hold the thermal sleeve on the barrel. These are fairly conventional stuff and will be easy to apply if youíve any experience of PE. The instructions are a little vague as to exact position, but there are ample on-line references you can check. Trumpeterís are moulded integrally and look OK, except that the buckles on the four straps around the main section of the barrel are represented only as slight ridges at their sides. Some of RBís buckles are better than others, but they all improve on Trumpeterís.
Trumpeterís barrel is keyed so that you canít attach it out of alignment. RBís isnít. It is the same diameter, though, so there should be few problems at least getting it to stick.
On the whole, the slight flaws in the RB Model barrel donít detract from it as a replacement part. Although Trumpeter has captured some details more faithfully, they canít easily be shaved off and applied to the RB barrel, tempting though that is. And the other details are much better on the metal barrel, plus itís the right proportions. To make it even better, you might possibly use the kit parts as a template for some improvements of your own; but it will do very nicely without.
Highs: Accurate proportions, generally good detail, fine toolingLows: Some details slightly soft; possible minor assembly problemsVerdict: Well worth buying if you want a more accurate Centauro barrel. None of the small flaws is crucial and many can be fixed.