by: Keith Middleton [ ]
The Valentine tank was privately developed in the late 1930’s by Vickers. It was adopted by the British Army as an infantry tank, and went on to be produced in numerous variants. With more than 8,200 produced during World War II, it was manufactured in higher numbers than any other British AFV.
Miniart has released its Valentine kit, and because it served in North Africa with the potential for an interesting camouflage scheme, it was immediately more interesting to this reviewer than the initial kit, which represents the Mk. IV version used by the Soviet Union. I am not familiar with the Mk. IV kit, but I suspect that there are many shared parts. My interest in this kit was also increased because it includes three crew figures, and, as detailed below, all are appropriate for a North Africa setting.
The model comes in a sturdy box a little smaller than the normal Dragon AFV box. There is very nice painting of one of the vehicles that can be built using the included decals. The box represents that there are 657 parts. I did not count them, so we will have to take Miniart’s word that this is the correct number. Inside the box there were:
12 sprues of plastic parts
the lower hull tub (all individually wrapped in plastic)
a small fret of photo-etch
a decal sheet
an instruction booklet, and finally
a color painting guide
The instructions come in an 8-page booklet using black line drawings. Assembly is divided into 55 steps. The layout was initially confusing, as Step One appears on an interior page. However, once I figured out the layout it made sense. Since each step is clearly numbered, modelers should not have a problem following along. But note: the sprue map on the front does not indicate which parts are not used in the construction of this kit.
The painting guide comes in a 4-page booklet that provides instructions for both the tank and the figures The colors are keyed to the following brands of paint: (1) Vallejo, (2) Testors, (3) Tamiya, (4) Humbrol, (5) Revell, and (6) Mr. Color. The paint key also provides names for the colors used. There are instructions for seven different vehicles, all in North Africa:
(1) C Squadron, 40th RTR, 23rd Armoured Brigade, July 1942, “Culloden” all in sand (light stone?)
(2) B Squadron, 40th RTR, 23rd Armoured Brigade, December 1941, no vehicle name, again in sand
(3) C Squadron, 23rd Armoured Brigade, December 1941, “Mohawk” in all sand
(4) C Squadron, 40th RTR, 23rd Armoured Brigade, September 1942, “Cheetah” in sand with hard-edged “military brown” camouflage
(5) The Box Art tank: A Squadron HQ, 50th RTR, 23rd Armoured Brigade, Tunisia, 1942, “Respond” in sand with hard edged “military brown” camouflage
(6) Regimental HQ, 23rd Armoured Brigade, Spring 1942, “Viking” in all sand color
(7) Finally, and not surprisingly, a Beutepanzer in all sand from an unknown unit and time period
As already mentioned, there is a single sheet of decals providing the markings for all of the above. The decals are of high quality, in-register and the colors are very well done.
There are 5 sprues of individual track links totaling 220 links. The instructions call for 98 links per side, which gives some spares. The links are delicate and well-molded with no visible flash, sink holes, or other molding marks. Due to their petite size, caution is advised, as they seem like they may be prone to breaking when you try removing them from the sprue. As already noted, there are plenty of spares if that occurs. According to David Doyle’s book Valentine Tank Walk Around (published by Squadron), each link had three openings. These links only have the center opening. Also, a note to the modeler when they begin to weather their model: according to Mr. Doyle, Valentine tank tracks contained manganese, which inhibited the development of rust, depending on the quantity found in each link.
The lower hull tub is nicely done with detail on both the sides and the bottom. There are 2 small nubs on each end of the tub that will need to be removed. Other than the nubs, there are no other visible molding marks, flash, or seam lines.
There are 2 identical Sprue Bs. They contain the running gear, road wheels, springs, and other miscellaneous parts. Again, there is no flash or other marks marring the parts in locations that will be visible on the finished model. According to Mr. Doyle, the road wheels have the correct number of bolts for those of you who count those types of things.
There are also 2 D sprues, but they provide different parts. The first Sprue D contains the sand skirts, which are thin, but the edges are not beveled thereby creating a better scale impression. The parts are again nicely-molded with good detail, however there is a small amount of flash on some of the parts on this sprue. The turret is found on the second Sprue D in 3 parts. To my eye and touch, there does not appear to be any casting texture on the turret pieces. However, again according to Mr. Doyle’s text and pictures, the Valentine turret had very noticeable casting texture. There are two mantlets provided and the instructions indicate this is not a modeler’s choice, as they call for using only part D11.
The 2-pounder gun barrel is molded in a single piece. There is some interior detail provided for the turret, including the gun breech, the coaxial machine gun, and the radio (which matches up very nicely to the No. 19 wireless radio shown in Mr. Doyle’s book). In addition, the turret hatch has detail on both sides, so the modeler can take full advantage of having those crew figures supplied in the kit.
Sprues A and C provide the parts for the upper hull and all the items found there. Again, the detail is quite good. The fret of photo-etch parts is thin and the detail is well-done. Based on a quick read through the directions, the kit does not include plastic parts to use in place of the PE for modelers who prefer to avoid dealing with brass.
The three crew figures are found on Sprue F. The uniforms worn by the crew figures are appropriate for the North African locale. Figure A is the crewman using binoculars; he is wearing standard uniform items for an officer in North Africa: Long khaki drill pants and a pullover sweater. He also is wearing non-standard rubber-soled suede chukka boots. Figure B, the seated figure, is also wearing standard desert attire: the black beret of the Royal Tank Regiment (which matches the markings provided for the tanks), the standard long-sleeved khaki shirt with the sleeves rolled up, khaki shorts, socks, short puttees, and leather ankle boots. Figure C, the standing figure wearing the beret, wears the same clothing as Figure B.
The detail on these figures is impressive, and in my opinion is easily comparable to Dragon’s current line of figures. Each of the heads has different facial features, and the only drawback is the large amount of flash and very noticeable mold seams that may be troublesome to remove without removing surrounding detail.
This is the first Miniart AFV kit I have examined and I must say I am impressed with the detail and quality of the parts. The inclusion of the figures makes this a very attractive kit ripe for inclusion in a North African diorama.