by: Frederick Boucher [ ]
Aurora was one of the pioneers of plastic modeling. Their large series of standardized 1/48 scale models of aircraft and armor evolved from toy models into models as miniature prototypes that we expect today. However, Auroraís star dimmed and some of their models were issued under the K&B logo. Eventually Aurora died. Some of their molds were acquired and reissued by other companies. Monogramís 1/48 F-111, A-7, Fokker D.VII, Sopwith Camel and Se-5a are Aurora models. It was reported that Monogram bought the lionís share of the Aurora tooling but that most molds were destroyed in a train wreck in the late 1970s.
Aurora has never been considered in the same league as Tamiya but some of their 1/48 armor produced in the 1960s was as good, if not better, than what Tamiya released at that time. This S-Tank (Stridjvagen 103 A) is considered a better model than the 1/48 Tamiya S-Tank. Aurora's PzKpfw V Panther, PzKpfw VI Tiger II, IS-3 (or T-10 ?) Stalin, and M-46 Patton are considered toys in need of complete rebuilding. Auroraís S-Tank is a fair model and definitely one of the cooler models Aurora gave the modeling world! Your reviewer offers mainly photographs and defers to you as to whether that still holds true.
The Model(s)I wonít try to describe this vintage kit in great detail - instead Iíll let the photos do the talking. The only things I know about the Strv-103 "S-Tank" is that it was one of the first five tank models I built, that I think it is incredi-cool. I have read that Aurora cut their tooling based on a development between the prototype and the Strv-103 A, this model lacking flotation/fording gear. An informative article about it can be accessed through Stridsvagn 103 in the summary box, below.
The kit consists of around 80 parts of hard dark olive styrene (including four figures), and a pair of vinyl rubber band tracks. Unfortunately, several parts are off the sprues; I attempted to arrange them per sub-component.
The parts vary between sharp and soft molding. Many suffer from seam lines and ejector marks, some sinkholes, and flash. There is no texture on the metal surfaces. No attempt was made to simulate any weld seams.
The figures have soft detail and mold marks. Their detail quality is pictured for you to judge. Two have a separate arm. In the late 1960s Aurora made vacuform terrain display bases and created square boxes to accommodate them. Before the square box was made, the SPG was packed in a long box (see image above, courtesy of OldModelKits.com).
Gee-whizAurora simulated the fully automated hydro pneumatic suspension by sandwiching two rocking suspension inserts between the lower hull sides. Those are further affixed to the hull bottom plate. A group of raised lines molded inside the hull snag tabs on the suspension inserts, allowing the modeler to pose the S-Tank with the gun elevated or depressed. The real S-tank's 105mm Bofors was fixed in place and aimed by aiming the tank.
Aurora created their models with a mix of separate pieces and molded-on detail for items like pioneer tools, and engine and crew access hatches. There are only a few separate pieces.
The figures are little more than humanoid lumps of plastic. Two of the riflemen appear to have M1 Garands and one has some kind of LMG or assault rifle.
Instructions, painting, decalsAurora used line art and half-tones for graphics. The illustrated steps are supported with text.
Painting guidance is basic.
Decals include markings for two tank destroyers and two styles of national insignias. A decal placard identifying the model with the Swedish national flag was added when the display base model was released. Registration is poor.
ConclusionAurora was a major player back in the early days and they can claim some notable firsts. These models are not very good by today's standards yet they have great nostalgic value to modelers of a certain generation.
I am one of those modelers and plan to build my S-tank. Careful painting can overcome some of the technological limitations of the day.
P.S., for fun I added a YouTube video of live-fire tests against the S-Tank, below:
Thanks to OldModelKits.com for use of the box art.
Click here for additional images for this review.