Mk.5 L/50 6 Pdr Gun
British Infantry Tank
AFV Club 1:35 Kit No. AF 35154
Review by Terry Ashley
Metal and vinyl parts
Full lenght soft vinyl tracks
The standard of plastic moulding is very good overall with clean crisp details although there is a bit of fine flash on some of the smaller parts and the odd shallow pin and sink marks but nothing to get excited over as these are easily cleaned up.
One thing to watch is there are many very small plastic parts and removing these from the sprues will need care as a couple were damaged in my kit due to the sprue attachment especially where there is a chunk of sprue between two small parts. You will need to take care with these as well as working well over you bench as dropping some of these on the floor could result in problems. The etched parts are also well done with fine bending lines to aid in the simple bending where required.
Dimensionally the kit measures up well against available data and the 1:35 plans in the recent GUNPower book and in older issues of Panzer and Tank magazines which have been reproduced in more recent Ground Power issues. The turret dimensions match well to resized ordnance drawings in "Mr.Churchill's Tank" and on the Armour in Focus website with only some of the smaller items needing attention.
The kit is basically the previous Mk.III kit with new cast turret parts just like the real vehicle. The turret included is the initial cast Mk.IV layout with the ventilator located over on the left side of the roof, this early turret according to references and available photos was fitted with the early shorter Mk.III 6pdr gun and not the longer Mk.V 6pdr gun included in the kit. The vane sight fitted is also the later type with the early Mk.IV turrets having a simpler vane sight fitted further forward much like on the Mk.III turrets.
But as the Churchills underwent numerous upgrades with many newer features retro fitted to early tanks so these later features are quite feasible so I guess you have to decide on building the original early Mk.IV turret layout or probable upgrades undertaken.
The first production batch of the kit will include bonus parts of additional track links to add as turret armour as often seen on Churchills in Europe after D-Day.
Much of the review below is from the Mk.III review for the hull and running gear with additional comments for the new turret parts, we will also cover the different turret features more closely in the appropriate section below.
The suspension on the Churchill is quite a complicated affair and this is replicated on the kit with this being the most time consuming part of the whole kit and it’s good this is tackled early in the construction as its relatively plain sailing after this. It should be noted that the suspension with the use of the metal springs can be made fully workable and there have been no compromises in detail to achieve this with the springs looking very much to scale when compared to photos of the rear suspension.
The side panniers are in two parts with the entry hatch opening and surrounding lip detail as well as the openings for the air intakes, you also have to drill out the holes for the large bolt heads if these are to be used. If you wish to backdate the kit to an early Mk.III these bolts would not be used but the additional hull thickness is something you can do little about and wouldn’t be that noticeable on the final model.
The instructions don’t mention the hole size to drill but you should use a 1.4mm (3/64th inch) drill for these and you also need to watch as the bolts are in different positions on either side of the hull with an extra hole location included on the right side (part C2) that shouldn’t be drilled out, so take care here.
Removing the very small bolt heads from the sprues will require care with the cleanup of the sprue attachment bur but fitting into the drilled holes in easy. AFV Club have also released a set of brass bolt heads (set #AG35020) if you want a little crisper definition on the bolt heads but this is only marginal with the biggest advantage of the brass bolts being no cleanup required. These brass bolts can also be used on Cromwell/Centaur kits as well but two sets would be needed.
The suspension itself is made up of about 50 parts per side and will need care and patience during assemble as quite a few parts shouldn’t be glued especially if you want the suspension to articulate after assembly and it also aids during assembly to leave the springs posts in particular unglued.
You firstly slip the metal springs over the suspension posts (parts D5, D6) and then sit the posts into the recesses in one side of the panniers, the springs will help keep these in place while you attach the other pannier half but don’t actually glue the suspension posts in place as leaving these free will aid in lining up the axles with the lower suspension arms later.
Don’t worry about the large join seam between the two pannier parts as this will be hidden after assembly in any case.
The outer suspension mountings are in two parts each due to the front section being different on the MK.IV and added between these mountings are 11 cross members, there are actually four different types of cross members numbered D17, D18, D19 and D20 so take careful note of the parts and their location. I actually numbered these with a fine felt pen before removing from the sprues top avoid any confusion, the same goes for the 11 axle mountings which are also different (parts D21, D22, D23).
After attaching the cross members to one side mounting and let dry you then slip the appropriate axle mountings in place and glue the cross members to the other side mounting ensuring you do not glue the actual axle mountings in the process. Adding 2 or 3 axle mountings and gluing as you go is easier as keeping all 11 axle mountings in place while fitting the side mountings is all but impossible. Note part D19 required a little trimming to fit flush with the side mountings to allow this to fit snugly when attaching to the side panniers but other than that to kit was good if a little fliddly to get everything in place.
Once the glue on the axle mounting assembly has dried this is then fitted over the panniers and spring posts and it best to do this initially with the axle mountings facing downwards so gravity will hold these in the down position allowing the posts to ease into place. If you try and fit this the other way the axle mountings get in the way of the posts causing a few hassles.
After fitting the axle mountings over the spring posts you then have to align the axle stubs on the posts and axle mounting and this is where leaving the posts unglued will help as they may be facing the wrong way initially.
You then fit the road wheels in place which secures the axle stubs but strangely the fit of the wheels was so tight on my kit the wheels do not rotate but the suspension springs articulate very nicely as the springs are strong enough to push the wheel back into position after being depressed if you want to articulate the suspension for a diorama or such.
Just a quick note on removing the road wheels from the sprues as care is needed due to the thin edges of the road wheels so make sure you cut well away from the edge when removing the wheels from the sprue and trim later to ensure there is no damage the road wheel edges.
Detail on the road wheels and suspension parts is very well done and matches photos of the real things perfectly and the assembled suspension looks very much to scale even with the full articulation possible.
Detail on the idler wheels and drive sprockets is also very well done and the wheel dimensions also match the plans perfectly. Each wheel is in two halves with very crisp detail not requiring any additional cleanup other than the sprue attachment burs on a couple of the teeth and there is a vinyl poly cap trapped between the two drive sprocket halves for easy fitting to the drive axle. The final drive housing is also a separate part that is attached to the hull side plate with the idlers having two mounting panels attached to the front of the side panniers.
When attaching the assembled side panniers/suspension to the hull sides (parts A1. A3) you should temporarily fit the upper hull plate (part B25) between the two hull side as you glue them to get the spacing correct to ensure a good fit of the top deck later. This is important as gluing the hull sides into place without checking the fit of the top deck can result in rather large gaps between the hull sides and deck when you come to fit the deck later, so save yourself some grief and check this now.
Gluing the assembled suspensions to the lower and rear hull plates is very straightforward as the fit is very good if a little fiddly to get lined but once in place the fit is good. The rear hull extensions that fit over the drive sprockets are also nicely detailed and fit precisely onto place but you should note there are attachment brackets for the later fender bracings (parts E10) and if these are not fitted you have to cut off the mounting brackets from the hull extensions (parts C5, C11) as the instructions omit to mention this.
Also there are the elaborate mud scrappers that are trapped between the hull and outer panels as these are fitted and you shouldn’t glue these as they are designed to move a little, just watch that you fit the scrappers the right way up as it’s easy for these to be added upside down.
Other details added to the hull sides are the separate crew entry doors that have additional inner face detail if you wanted to show these open but as there is no internal detail its better to leave these closed and there are the large mud slides added to the front which have nice detail and fit easily into place although you have to line these up by eye with the top of the front armour, not a big problem.
The other major item is the large side armoured air intake trunks which are made up of 5 parts each with the top mesh screen with moulded mesh detail but as this is covered by the top cover is more than adequate. Care is needed with the front lip of the top mesh panel when removing from the sprue as the attachment is right on the thin lip edge and you can easily damage the lip if not careful.
Assembly of the trunks was straightforward and the fit to the hull sides very precise with the trunks in the accompanying images just sat in place not actually glued such is the good fit. At the back is the smoke generators made up of three parts each (1 etched) and the air deflectors.
The upper rear plate has very fine auxiliary fuel tank mountings that require you to drill out locating holes in the rear plate but there are no actual fuel tanks included in the kit and these will have to be found elsewhere if you want to fit these?
The upper air intake grills are also separate parts but there is a bit of cleanup needed on these before fitting with the fit off all the real panels being very good not requiring any trimming other than some very fine flash on a couple of mating surfaces that would probably be dissolved by the glue in any case as its really very minor.
This kit has new periscopes from the type in the Mk.III kit but unfortunately these (parts P13) are those used on the Churchill Mk.VII and not the Mk.IV unless its undergone a major rebuild which is unlikely due to the lack of other upgrades such as the side appliqué armour.Fortunately the right periscopes are still in kit on sprues E so you should use the periscope parts E33 and E34 with the clear parts H1 and H2. Along with the outer periscope housing and top cover that can be positioned at any angle you wish as they rotated on the real vehicle there is the full inside periscope (part H2) but this is difficult to see after assembly and if you have the hatches closed save yourself some time and eliminate them completely.
The crew hatches are correctly offset with outer hatch frames and the separate hatches have inner padding without any pin marks to contend with as well as very small separate etched inner fittings and plastic latch handle and separate outer grab handle for good definition. The fit of the frames and hatches is very good not requiring any trimming at all and you can again leave the hatches open if you wish to include any of the resin crew figures available separately.
The rear engine deck hatches also have separate fine plastic grab handles and fit snugly to the deck cut-outs and being separate will allow the easy inclusion of engine detail should an aftermarket interior become available?
Added on the deck is the two exhaust pipes made up of six parts and sheet metal covers which are moulded quite thin for a good appearance with these all fitting neatly in place without any problems.
There is also an additional engine deck plate at the back of the main deck and this again has separate fine grab handles and fits snugly in place without any trimming needed. The pioneer tools supplied have their brackets moulded with the tools and you need to drill out the tool locating holes in the deck and replacing these brackets with etched items from any of the etched sets already released for the Mk.III will improve the look.
Moving to the front the glacis has very fine details including with the bullet splash guards being especially finely done and this plate has to added before the lower front plate as you have to slide the glacis into the slots on the insides of the inner idler mounting plates but the fit is very snug once in place.
Added to the glacis are the two part head lights but you may want to leave these off until later to avoid damage at this stage?
The lower front plate also fits snugly into place and includes a separate central tow bracket as well as the two large armour attachment bolts that would have to be removed if backdating to an early Mk.III.
The driver’s plate has a separate main vision port hatch with the smaller bolted vision flap also separate so you can show either the full hatch or just to port open as was often the case, there are additional smaller plastic and etched parts added to the hatch as well as the visor on the inside.
On the left is the co-axial BESA MG in full with an etched part for the jacket although the barrel will need to be drilled out for a better appearance. The BESA then fits into the armoured cradle that is held in place by two securing brackets that allow both elevation and traverse. The BESA is quite nice but the barrel could be improved with the use of an aftermarket item such as those from Lionmarc/Passions Models without any problems.
Added to the panel is the outer armour block around the co-axial MG and due to the thickness of the block there are a few shallow sink marks present that you may want to address with the fit of the driver’s panel being very good but you should fit the main driver’s panel in place before adding the additional armour block as this partly sits on top of the glacis.
Added each side of the glacis are the inner fender plates that also hold the wooden jack blocks and the plates are different for left and right so watch this when fitting.
The fit of the main top deck is very good between the driver’s plate, the side panels and the rear engine deck plate proving you checked the side plates as mentioned earlier.
The final parts for the hull are the fenders which are provided in six main segments plus the side fender plates at front and back as well as the rubber (in plastic) mud flaps added to the front fenders, there are also alternate parts at the back depending if you are building the later or earlier style fenders.
Providing these fender segments as separate parts is a great bonus not only for easier fitting but to allow you to build the model with any number of fender segments missing as is often seen in photos of battle weary Churchill’s.
Added to the rear fender segments are the storage racks for four water cans and these have additional etched brackets for a nice appearance.
Before fitting the fenders you have to add the full length vinyl track which have quite good details for the medium but there are some pour plug marks on some links that are difficult to remove and joining the tracks together is an interesting exercise as there are no actual pins to join the ends and normal plastic cement has no effect. I tried using a medium thickness cyanoacrylate but this came apart while stretching the track around the idler and drive sprocket and ended up heat welding the two ends together. This resulted in a bit of link distortion due to the lack of join pins but this can be easily hidden under the fenders or at ground contact with the tracks fitting very nicely around the idler, drive sprocket and the road wheels with a slight track stretch to make for a snug fit.
AFV Club have also released two sets of individua workablel Churchill track links as an alternative to the vinyl kit tracks, these being set # AF35156 Track Link for Churchill and set # AF35183 Churchill British Infantry Tank B.T.S 3 Heavy Track, click links for full reviews of the sets.
The turret shell has openings for the gun and co-axial BESA mantlet, separate periscope and ventilator, pistol ports, crew hatches and open 2" bomb thrower port.
Dimensionally the turret matches the available data very well give or take a fraction here and there and is well within acceptable tolerances as does the turret shape, the only quibble is the corners and top edges appear a little sharp and the front contours a little flat and not rounded as seen in most period photos.
showing only minor discrepancies.
For the single periscope you should again use the periscope parts E33 and E34 along with the clear parts H1 and H2 and not part P13 as indicated in the instructions.
The flat Commander’s cupola is nicely done with separate hatches that have inside padding without any pin marks as are the Loader’s hatches along with additional smaller inside latches that will need care removing from the sprues and in fitting. There are small securing latches added next to both the Commander’s and Loader’s hatches which have quite large sprue attachments for their size and the instructions have the wrong part numbers for the Commander’s hatch latches. These should be parts E16 and not E17 as indicated which are for the Loader’s hatch latches.
The cupola vision ports have separate covers but the edges are very thin and due to the sprue attachment being right on the edge these are easily damaged and care will be needed removing these from the sprues. There is also a small searchlight light added to the side of the cupola made up of two clear parts.
The etched vane sight in thin brass (part G21) is the later type not usually associated with the initial Mk.IV turret in the kit but again the more appropriate vane sight is still included on the etched fret (part 13) and you should use this positioned in front of the ventilator dome. Just a quick note on the ventilator cover, the kit cover is the early type with later covers being flatter in profile and slightly larger in diameter, some period photos of early Mk.IV turrets show both the early and later types (not both at once obviously).
The 6pdr gun has the full gun breech inside as well as the full BESA co-axial MG the same as for the hull and again drilling out the barrel or replacing with a metal barrel will improve the appearance. The MG cradle is a separate part added to the front of the mantlet to allow the indentations on the left side to be included correctly with the BESA and etched barrel guard added into the cradle from behind the mantlet.
The metal barrel supplied is the longer Mk.V version of the 6pdr with the larger counter weight included but as mentioned above the more appropriate gun for the turret type in the kit is the shorter Mk.III 6pdr barrel with this thankfully available from RB Models (set #35B17) with both the smaller and larger counter weights included.
The assembled gun breech fits to the back of the gun mantlet and the metal barrel fits into the front of the mantlet and the gun assembly is held in place behind the front plate with two brackets allowing gun elevation.
The circular No.19 Radio antenna base provided is very well done for an injected plastic base but unfortunately is oversized somewhat and there is little you can do other than replace this with an aftermarket antenna base of the right size if this is of concern. I have used here the excellent antenna base from Lionmarc Designs (set #LM60009) which also adds additional detail over the kit base.
At the back is a new three part turret box that goes together well and attaches to the four raised bosses on the rear turret wall, take note as the original box is still included on the sprues so make sure you use the correct parts as indicated in the instructions. The turret ring is designed to clip into the hull top turret ring without the usual notch cut-outs used on many kits. This makes for the cleaner appearance but it’s not easy to remove the turret after fitting so you may want to leave this off until towards final assembly.
Other items added to the turret are the two fire extinguishers either side of the rear box and the signal flag container which is nicely textured plus the two rod antenna made from stretched sprue.
The standout feature again is the superb rendition of the complicated Churchill suspension that allows for fully articulated suspension if you wish. The metal springs provided look very much in scale adding to the final appearance.
Other details are very well done and the fit of the parts superb without any trimming needed but take care with the position of the hull side panels for the hull top fit as outlined above as this has potential to cause problems for the unwary.
The kit is not for the inexperience modeller due to the intricate suspension design but the turret style included is that commonly used on the AVRE so we will be seeing that kit in the future as well as possibly later Mk.IV versions upgraded with appliqué armour or later style turrets?
Mr. Churchill's Tank
See review for details.
By Leszek Moczulski
Published by AJ Press
Tamiya Photographic Album No.3
Has some excellent line drawings of the Mk.III/IV hull, turret and smaller details as well as full walkaround of the Mk.VII.
Churchill Infantry Tank 1941-51
Good overall coverage of all variants of the Churchill.
A History with scale plans of the 79th Armoured Division
Geoffrey W. Futter
ISBN 0 85242 405 1
Is out of print and may be hard to find but has a detailed coverage with 1/76th scale plans of all the specialised vehicles used by the 79th AD from D-Day onwards.
is distributed in Australia by J.B.Wholesalers