by: Reimund G. Manneck [ ]
British armored doctrine of the 1920s and 1930s evolved around the idea that heavy “infantry” tanks should assist the infantry in conducting deliberate assaults against the enemy’s front lines; then, once a breakthrough had been achieved, they would commit pursuit tanks in the rear areas. This led to the development of two distinctively different categories of British tanks: infantry, or “I” tanks, and pursuit, or “cruiser” tanks. The “cruiser” class included the Covenanter, the Centaur, the Cromwell, Challenger, Comet, Centurion and the subject of this review – the Crusader.
With an off-road speed of 43mph, the Crusader was an excellent tank for a war in the desert. It first saw fire in June of 1941 on the Libyan border and then made up the bulk of the armored forces of the British forces until the end of 1942, sharing its successes and defeats. However, because of its light armor and moderate armament, Crusaders were not able to adequately match the German anti-tank guns and were very vulnerable to mines. First combats against German panzers in Africa proved the need for a thicker armor. The Mk.II version of the Crusader had thus a front armor increased from 40 to 50 mm. Yet, it maintained its puny 40mm two pounder gun. This tank, while a match to the German’s PanzerIII, was immensely outclassed by the armor and firepower of the PanzerIV.
Italeri’s 1/35 Crusader Mk.II is a brand new kit, not an inaccurate reboxing of its older and out-of-production Mk.III kit. In the box the modeler will find three sprues of sand colored, crisply molded and flash-free plastic. The tracks are vinyl, and very stiff. The decals supplied with the kit are for a desert sand Mk II, \
The first tree holds the wheels, sprockets, suspension, turret ring, a pair of towropes and many other small fittings. Everything is very well molded. One thing you will notice in this kit is that the parts are not numbered in the sprues. Instead it is numbered in the instructions in the usual parts map. This is the first time I have seen a kit from a major manufacturer that lacked part numbering.The second tree holds the hull top and bottom, front and rear hull plates and the parts that make up the turret. The rivet detailing in the turret and hull plates is awesome. Also included are the antennae posts with the antennae already molded. These will be better removed and substituted with stretched sprue. The last tree has the hull sides, a new and correct gun mantle, the gun, a spare fuel tank and side boxes and the little front turret with a separate opening hatch. The gun is molded with a simple breech, which will be somewhat visible through the openings in the mantle. The coax machine gun will benefit from careful work with a pin vise to open up the muzzle.
Missing from this kit are the sand skirts, which were a predominant feature on the Crusaders during the North African Campaign. Eduard offers those in P.E. Talking about aftermarket, it may be a good idea to get some new tracks for this kit since Italeri’s vinyl is very stiff and will tend to float on top of the wheels. I must give KUDOS for Italeri on this one. Lately, mainstream manufacturers have hugely overlooked British tanks and the little of what is out there is very old. It would be nice to have some more off these so as to build the whole family of cruiser tanks.
Italeri's Crusader Mk.II review
Copyright ©2020 text by Reimund G. Manneck [ ]. All rights reserved.
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