Inside the Armour
is a new British company that plans to specialise in vehicle interiors. Chris Meddings, whom some of you will know well, is heading up the operation and the company has just released its first interior update detail set for the AFV Club Churchill Mk III. My understanding from Chris is that there may well be further Churchill interior detail sets, so keep an eye out for developments. Also in the pipe line is an interior detail set for the new Tamiya Matilda. This set will be for the Matilda Mk III/IV and should be available around 10th April, 2010.
Sorry, I digress! Back to the Churchill Set. The release of the new AFV Club Churchill has brought joy to many and finally put this venerable old war horse back to a position that it rightly deserves. Making an interior update set for any vehicle is a gamble, but the initial response from the modelling community has been very positive. This set is designed for the AFV Club kit 35153.
Obviously vehicle interiors are complex and consist of many small fittings and fixtures. My initial research into the content of the set has been very positive, with all the major areas of the vehicle being adequately covered and represented in the kit.
The set comes packaged in a sturdy cardboard box. On the front, the box is sealed with a large label depicting the manufacturers details and product information. The label contains 5 colour images of the set in various stages of construction. At the bottom of the label is the web address for Inside the Armour.
Inside the box were 3 zip bags of resin parts, a PE fret and a 4th zip bag containing plastic rod cello taped to a hard backing card for protection. Two different thicknesses of wire are also provided for the build, plus a set of instructions. The parts were wrapped for further protection in a fold of bubble wrap, and my set arrived undamaged through the normal post. My first test of any kit is to gently shake the box, this produced an alarming rattle of moving parts, so perhaps a little more bubble wrap might be in order.
The parts themselves are cast in a light cream resin. The overall casting looks very good and I could see no air bubbles or other major cause for concern. However, no part numbers or letters are given on the casting blocks, so careful study of page two and the instructions will be required for identification purposes, (see instructions below). The set contains 87 resin parts, plus a medium sized fret of PE, so there is a lot of build for your bucks here.
The instructions come in the form of 7 x A4 pages folded into a 28 page booklet. Page 1 shows a colour picture of the completed conversion, product details etc. Page 2 contains contact details for the company and safety information regarding working with resin and page 3 contains a parts list depicted by 5 small colour pictures showing the resin parts and part numbers corresponding to the build instructions. Given that no part numbers appear on the blocks themselves this would appear to be a sensible approach to over come this issue, although I would have liked bigger pictures for the visually challenged folks like myself. I would also have liked to see a typed parts listing ie: Part 1 = Turret Bin c/w load. My rational for this is that whilst it is good to know where a part goes, it is even better when you also know what exactly that part is.
Page 3 opens with preparations to the AFV kit and follows on in a logical sequence showing the internal right hand pannier build, then the left hand internal pannier build. Then they move on to the hull floor build, fighting compartment build and rear fire wall build. The last 7 pages concern the turret build and again follows a logical sequence. No complete build pictures are linked to the diagrams contained within the instructions so unless you are a Churchill expert I strongly suggest a thorough read of the instructions, study of the parts and cross reference this to both stowage diagrams and reference pictures. This should ensure that you have a good understanding of what goes where, before you start.
I have added into this review some of the original test build pictures from Chris that I hope will aid your build and help give a more rounded picture of the set.
With over 80 resin parts it would be impossible for me to comment on every single piece. However, I have looked in detail at the parts, both comparing their position within the vehicle and overall quality/accuracy and I would comment as follows:
The parts give an accurate representation of the various stowage bins, cans and pouches found within the vehicle. For example Part 1, the stowage bin under the No 19 radio, is moulded with the Bren drum magazines, spare w/t valves case, spare periscope prisms and even the tin containing 2lb of bleach powder in place. The ammo stowage bins have the correct number of round spacing’s, the breech has ratchet elevation for the later Mk IIIs if needed and there are even small bags of personal kit. As far as I can tell just about everything that is shown on the stowage diagrams is represented, with the exception of the Bren and Thompson MG’s which you would need to add. Couple all this with wiring diagrams and a full turret basket coupled with turret interior parts, and you are working towards one very busy interior.
The accuracy of the parts is very good indeed, most if not all of the small items found inside the vehicle appear to be present. The detail overall is excellent, although one or two of the items have detail not just as sharp as I would have liked, but they will still give me a perfectly acceptable representation of the kit. If you add to this the additional detail provided by the PE fret and wiring, then you have a very accurate and detailed representation of the vehicle interior. As this is a first venture into the manufacturing arena for Inside the Armour, this is a very creditable set, showing lots of accurate research and time devoted to getting it right.
Normal precautions apply when working with resin.
An excellent set fit for its purpose, well researched and thought-out. It will add a level of detail to your Churchill that many modellers like to have, plus of course the satisfaction of having a more complete kit. The casting is of a very high quality and you get everything you should need for the build in one box, and that is always good.
For me vehicle interiors add a whole new dimension to a vehicle, making me look even more closely into the vehicle itself, and by doing so gain a greater understanding of the actual equipment and how it functioned. They also add so much additional pleasure and fun to a build and tend to leave me feeling much more satisfied with the project. They throw light onto how the vehicle was fought and the conditions in which the troops operated, and whilst tank interiors are seen by some as a waste of time, my advice would be build one then see how you feel.
I think the instructions could be improved upon, but they are good enough to allow for a successful build. There is a Part1 but not a Part 2, and page 4 needs a Right Hand Side Pannier heading after the data about preparation. I would have liked bigger parts pictures and a listing of the function of each part, and for ease of identification to have part numbers on the casting blocks.
I believe this set will be welcomed and enjoyed by many, and I take my hat off to Inside the Armour for adding yet another useful item to that growing list of available British kits. As a stand alone kit or added into any diorama this will give interest and joy to many. With more possibilities in the pipe line a company to keep your eye on.
For the purists it should be noted that no roof fittings come with the set.
For those interested in this build I would recommend the following references:
Mr Churchill’s Tank
by David Fletcher, ISBN 9 780746 306792. This is a comprehensive account of the development of the Churchill Gun Tanks and contains a mountain of useful information for the Modeller.
Armour in Focus: Website Link
. This contains a restoration build of the Mk III Vehicle and is a valuable resource for Churchill enthusiasts.
There are two Osprey publications that may also be useful. Churchill Tanks 1941 – 51
Osprey Publishing (New Vanguard) ISBN 1-85532-297-8 providing a potted history of the vehicle. And for painting/building and inspiration Modelling the Churchill Tank
by Mark Bannerman, another Osprey Publication ISBN 9-781841 768694.
Of course a visit to the Imperial War Museum on line site, Link
, will provide a wealth of actual pictures to aid and inspire you.
Thank you to Inside the Armour
for providing this set for review.
This set will be put to use in this Build Log
on the Forums.