One of the most desired Allied armor subjects since AFV Club
's monumental Churchill Mk. III release (item AF35153), this well-known version of the Churchill builds upon AFV Club's previous Churchill kits, with some new goodies, including a new metal 6 pounder Mk. 5 L/50 gun barrel and enough extra track links, of both the webbed and the box-section type, to festoon the turret and hull with this kind of make-shift protection so commonly seen in wartime photos of Churchills. Jim Rae has previously covered AFV Club's Mk. III Churchill, so I’ll cover the bits added for this version.
Read Jim Rae's review of the first Churchill kit (Mk. III) here:
Review: AFV Club's Churchill Mk. III
Assembly of these kits from AFV Club is easy. The end result is a very detailed model with a fully-articulating suspension. I will outline the sequence I found to be easiest, though it does not follow the steps laid out in the kit directions:
Step one is to trap the springs with their spring towers to the hull sides (called "panniers" in British terms).
Next, I numbered some similar-looking parts with a felt pen before snipping them from the sprues. The numbered bits are the spacers with bump stops, (parts D17, 18, 19, 20) that fit between each girder. The girders (parts D1, 2, 3, 4) are the long bits that will actually hold the whole assembly between them. The girders also have the pins on which the suspension arms hang. Even though some of those spacers are dissimilar, it doesn't matter if you get them mixed-up. Nobody will see them once everything is together!
Cement ONE girder (parts D3, D2) and all those spacers to the hull pannier you assembled in Step 1. Make sure the spacers are straight and that the girder is straight. There are grooves to help you line it up. Let all these bits dry before moving to the next step:
Hang all the suspension arms (parts D21,22,23) on their respective pins on that girder. How does one keep them all in place? The WHEELS keep them all in place. Once you've inserted the wheel axles though the suspension arms and spring towers, it all stays together nicely. The holes in the suspension arms are elongated to allow more flexibility.
The only hard part is carefully removing the wheels from the sprues, without damaging the sharp outer edges.
Building AFV Club's Churchills: Blog
After releasing their Centurion kits with workable suspensions, AFV Club set about finding a more suitable and manageable material for the suspension springs for their Churchill kits. These springs are very soft, yet remaining "to scale.”
Although the kit-supplied vinyl tracks are as good as vinyl can be it was necessary to cement the vinyl tracks together – only CA cement would bond.
The hull is entirely built-up from multiple parts, but it's trouble-free if you are careful to keep everything square. One has the choice of omitting some sections of upper track guard. Wartime photos of Churchills often show this tinwork, especially the center sections straddling the turret missing: mud and debris would build-up, to the point where rotation of the turret could be fouled.
The small details made-up of PE brass parts are plentiful: cooling jackets for the BESA machine guns, securing straps for the oil cans, and gussets for the top track guards. Nice touches include the PE parts for the hull-mounted spare track links.
The detail throughout the kit, especially bolt head detail, is superb. The bolt heads festooning the Churchill can be tricky to mount, as the conical headed ones have no purchase for the tweezers, while the small bolts (parts M2) are tiny and could be very tricky to install. Using sticky "Blue-Tac" on the end of a paintbrush handle works well for installing the conical bolt heads. For the tiny bolts, leave them connected to a small portion of the sprue, using the sprue to handle the bolt. Remove the bit of sprue after the bolt is installed and the cement cured.
The smoke emitters and other parts on the rear panel are nicely done with PE details. The separate engine deck hatches and exhaust system are gems, as is the multi-part driver's vision hatch. New parts for the Mk. 4 include the central hull ventilator and late-model periscopes.
As a welder in my previous life, I can safely say the weld bead detail throughout the kit is very realistic! Also included is a new cupola-mounted spotlamp, made from clear parts.
The new turret includes a brass PE guard for the co-axial BESA, and also the breech, which will be seen through open turret hatches. New Mark 4 periscopes, 6 pounder gun barrel, mantlet, photo-etched aiming vane, and stowage bin differ from the Mk. III kit.
I really can't say if the new sheet of decals are historically accurate for those specific vehicles or not, but they are crisp and trouble-free. Included are markings for four Churchills.
As the only Churchill Mk. 4 plastic kit, it's well worth the sticker price. After building the first two Churchill kits from AFV Club, I found this to be one of the most enjoyable and trouble-free kits I've built recently. All the parts fit together well, but some minor moulding marks need to be removed from the vinyl tracks.
This kit is extremely detailed and very much looks the part, especially the distinctive casting of the unique Mk. 4 turret. Unlike the previous Mk. III AVRE kit, only the Mk. 1 commander’s cupola is included –appropriate for an early Mk. 4. The shortcoming of the new kit is the unfortunate seam which results from joining the turret halves.
Follow my construction blog of the Churchill Mk. III via the link provided above. AFV Club plans to release variants of the Churchill regularly in the future. This year is off to a great start so far, with the release of one of the most-anticipated kits for Allied armor fans. Will we next see a Churchill bridge-layer or other Churchill "funny"?...stay tuned to Armorama to find out!
Note that the first run of kits will also contain a print of the box art!
"Mr. Churchill's Tank" The British Infantry Tank Mk.IV
Schiffer Military Publications