British Infantry Tank Valentine Mk.II
1:35 kit comparison
kit #AF 35185 - kit #35116
Chapter 1: Lower Hull/Suspension
On the Minart lower rear panel (part A6) are three round access covers, these should be removed as they were not present on the early Valentines. When joining the two rear plates (parts B27, B37) on the AFV Club hull there is what appears to be a large gap at the lower join, but this should actually be there so don’t be tempted to fill this gap. The corresponding join on the Miniart hull panels is perfectly flush and while it looks nice is incorrect as the large panel line (gap) should be present as with the AFV Club and real hull.
Also note the round port covers to be removed from the lower Miniart hull panel
Reference image of the rear hull join and tail light assemblies.
The only interior in the AFV Club hull is the rear engine bulkhead with the two fan cut-out holes, this is used to position the upper engine deck parts correctly more than an interior and to fit you first have to remove two large raised pin marks inside the hull tub to allow the bulkhead to fit correctly, if not removed the top of the engine deck will sit slightly too high.
The Miniart kit being a later release includes the driver’s station details and rear transmission and radiators that first appeared in the Bronco Models Archer (kit #CB35074).
The driver’s station has the steering levers, the three foot pedals, central gear shift box, seat and instrument panel attached to the underside of the glacis but all this is not easily seen after assembly.
The rear engine bulkhead with the two radiator fans with excellent definition moulded in along with side tanks and multi-part gearbox/transmission assemblies which fit into the hull tub perfectly. The only minor thing is to trim the ends of the mounting rods (parts E8, E9) fractionally to fit better between the sidewalls.
Mounted above these assemblies are the two large radiators made up of eight parts each with very subtle radiator mesh texturing. Don't bother using parts E42 and just glue all the parts, the assembled radiators fit precisely between the mounting rods and firewall without the need for glue allowing you to remove these if need be at any time. If you plan to build the kit hatches closed leave out the internal parts to save on assembly. But you should note the radiators are too short in height in accordance with the outer louver doors as mentioned.
Rear transmission/gearbox and fans, also fitted into the hull.
Radiators in the alternate positions.
Each kit has the suspension bogies designed to articulate after assembly but in both this just doesn’t work as intended and you should glue the bogies firmly in place ensuring all six road wheels are evenly sitting on the floor. The main reason for this is the track when fitted will tend to distort the first and last road wheel leaving the road wheels uneven, especially with the vinyl track in the AFV Club kit. This effect can also occur when using workable track as there is nothing to actually force the bogies to stay level other than gluing in place as mentioned.
Basic assembly, main arm with spring piston attached and fitting of the road wheel arm.
Road wheel are and spring attached with road wheel axles to be fitted and fully assembled suspension units.
Far simpler assembly of the Miniart assembly but with less detail definition.
The main bogie mounting face plate has more refined detail on the AFV Club parts as well as having the details represented more correctly , most notably there are only three bolts on each side of the main mounting which is correct on the AFV Club part while the Miniart part has four bolt heads here. Also the lowest row of four “bolts” are actually flush screws and again the AFV Club part has this depicted correctly while these are raised round bolts on the Miniart parts. This may not mean much at the end of the day as much of this detail is hidden by the road wheels but it’s nice to have to done correctly in the first place. To be really picky all the round “bolts heads” on the real mountings are actually rounded screws heads and should have the screw slot included but both kits just have them as solid rounded heads apart from the lower flush screws as mentioned on the AFV Club mountings.
The road wheel sizes are the larger wheels at 24 inches and the smaller at 19.5 inches, this equates to 17.4mm and 14.15mm (rounded to the half mm). The AFV Club wheels measure out to 17.3mm (-0.1mm) and 14.0mm (-0.15mm) and the Miniart wheels at 16.7mm (-0.7mm) and 13.7mm (-0.45) respectively. As can be seen there isn’t a lot of difference with the largest being the 0.7mm discrepancy with the larger Miniart wheels but the smaller Miniart wheel axles are slightly too far apart and this in conjunction with the wheels sizes result in the visual spacing between the wheels being more than it should.
Apart from the overall dimensions there is also small differences in the actual wheel rim sizes with the Miniart rims smaller than they should be which contributes to the overall size differences, the AFV Club rims are more correctly sized but again we are only talking small differences but the final visual effect accentuates the differences especially in the wheels spacing as mentioned. Overall he AFV Club wheels are more correctly sized and the spacing between the smaller wheels less resulting in a more appropriate appearance for the wheel profile.
The AFV Club wheels have separate central hub caps that trap the vinyl washers inside allowing easy fitting of the axles and also allowing the wheels to rotate after fitting while the Miniart wheels have separate rear inserts and designed to be glued to the axles not allowing any rotation. The Miniart hub caps also have a fine pin mark on the tip that needs smoothing out while the AFV Club hubs have the small raised round detail on the tip which is present on the actual wheels and overall the AFV Club wheels have better defined details.
This image shows the AFV Club kit fitted with the later Miniart wheels
Some minor alterations are required to fit the wheels but nothing difficult
The spacing of the wheels is better than on the Miniart suspension.
- With the larger 24" wheels you simply drill a 1.4mm hole in the back of the Minairt wheels and these then fit straight onto the AFV Club axles.
- For the smaller 19.5" wheels, firstly drill a 1.3mm hole through the Miniart axle stubs
- Carefully cut the axle stubs from the backing plate with a sharp blade..
- Glue the axle stubs into the rear of the 19.5" road wheels.
- Fit the modified Miniart wheels directly to the AFV Club axle stubs..
- The 19.5" wheel sub-assembly is than attached to the AFV Club bogies as designed, this is repeated for the other three suspension bogie assemblies..
The drive sprockets in the kits are different sizes and it’s rather confusing to nail down the differences which vary between the sprocket segments, in any case these are small but the sum total sees a 1.5mm difference in sprocket dimensions which effects the track fit as we will see.
Firstly let’s look at the actual sizes based on the 1:35 plans listed below and measurements kindly supplied by Dick Taylor. The outside tooth diameter is 760mm (21.7mm rounded in 1:35 scale) and the diameter of the sprocket disc itself is 645mm (18.4mm rounded in 1:35 scale). All the plans show the sprocket disc the same diameter at about 18.5mm but they vary wildly in the tooth sizes unfortunately but thanks to Dick’s measurements we have the actual outside diameter. The diameter of the central brake drum is 480mm (13.7mm rounded in 1:35 scale) with most of the plans showing this slightly wider but only marginally. The actual sprocket has 20 drive teeth as do both the kit sprockets so they are right in this detail apart from the size of the teeth.
As to the kit sprockets we see as follows: Note all kit measurements are taken with electronic callipers using the chippies motto of “measure twice, cut once”, or “measure twice, write down once” in this case.
Sprocket Disc diameter: 18.4mm
Outside tooth diameter: 20.25mm
This sees the sprocket disc the right size but the outside tooth diameter being 1.45mm too small.
Sprocket Disc diameter: 20.0mm
Outside tooth diameter: 21.7mm
This sees the sprocket disc size 1.6mm too big with the teeth correspondingly too small to end up with the right outside tooth diameter.
But the main measurement as far as the track fit around the sprocket is concerned is the disc size and in this regard the AFV Club sprocket is closer to the actual measurement than the Miniart sprocket disc being is 1.6mm too big. As you can see we are only talking small differences here and I stand to be corrected on any of the actual dimensions but the result gives a major visual difference to the sprockets sizes more than the measurements would indicate, and does affect the track fit especially if using aftermarket track sets.
The very early Valentine Mk.Is had the A9/10 style twin pin track and larger diameter sprocket with only 14 drive teeth before switching to the single pin manganese steel track and corresponding smaller sprocket with 20 teeth used on all subsequent Valentines variants.
It appears that the Miniart kit sprocket may be this larger diameter early A9/10 style sprocket but with 20 undersized drive teeth to arrive at the correct outside tooth diameter, that is just speculation on my part. It should also be noted there are different styles of sprocket discs used with the later track but all had the same overall diameter.
The central brake drum on the other hand is the correct size on both kits with the AFV Club brake drum moulded in one piece with nicely defined detail on the face and just a very fine moulding line to be removed on the ribbed drum section while the Miniart drum is in three parts, the two halves for the ribbed drum resulting in a join seam that may need some work to eliminate and the end cap again with delicate details included.
Assembly of the AFV Club sprocket/final drive is straightforward with the actual tooth disc having an inside ring that results in the inner perforations around the sprocket; the fact that this ring is all but hidden after the tracks have been fitted makes this attention to detail noteworthy. The two part final drive housing traps a small vinyl washer inside which allows the sprocket with brake drum attached to freely rotate after fitting by way of the long attachment pin on the back of the sprocket disc, this also allows you to remove the sprocket/brake drum easily from the final drive while fitting the tracks.
Drive sprockets and final drives assembled
The Miniart sprocket/final drive is also easily assembled with the two part final drive assembly to which is glued the sprocket and brake drum, this assembly is not designed to be movable after assembly which isn’t a real problem with the non-working individual track provided in the kit as it actually helps fit the track if the sprocket can’t move. But if you wanted to upgrade to aftermarket track having a moving sprockets will help and making the sprocket rotatable is not that difficult, see here for a short guide on what’s needed to make the sprockets rotate after assembly.
- First drill a 2mm hole through the inner final drive (part B21) and insert a 13mm long length of 2mm plastic rod in place.
- Glue the outer final drive housing (part B22) to the rear of the sprocket disc (part B20) and drill a 2mm hole through the centre of this sub-assembly. Note this is not how the actual final drive/sprocket assembly operates on the actual tank but this provides a more stable platform the sprocket to rotate after assembly.
- Slip sub-assembly (2) over the plastic pin from sub-assembly (1), this leaves the plastic pin end exposed through the sprocket disc and you secure this in place by adding a section of larger diameter plastic tube (or similar) over the 2mm pin taking care not to glue this to the sprocket disc.
- After ensuring the sprocket will rotate freely you than fit the outer brake drum to the sprocket and the final drive to the hull as per instructions, or you could glue this sub-assembly to the hull before attaching the sprocket in step (3) if you wished.
The AFV Club Idler mounting includes cast texturing for a nice appearance and assembles very easily, just note the instructions show to fit the tensioning handles (part C14, C15) in the wrong place, they should be attached to the inside of the idler housing bracket and not the outside as indicated. The final illustration in step 10 shows this in the correct position so take care during assembly; the small ratchet arm is attached on the outside of the bracket as indicated. The idler axle housing (parts C37, C38) fit very tightly to the locating lug on the main housing and can be rotated a few degrees to adjust the track tension like the real thing so don’t glue the axle housing in place until after you have fitted the tracks later to allow for any adjustment. In fact the fit was so snug I didn’t glue the axle housing at all leaving it free to be removed at any time to aid in fitting the aftermarket tracks and it staying happily in place once the tracks were attached without glue.
The AFV Club idler wheels again have separate hub caps that trap a small vinyl washer to allow easy fitting to the idler axle and the idlers have excellent details on the rims and hubs.
The Miniart Idler mounting has the front tow bracket included with a two part idler housing that has nice details included on the idler housing but no cast texturing on the mounting as does the AFV Club part. The idler axle housing is fixed in one position by way of two locating pins and to alter the position to get the track tension correct will mean cutting off the pins and rotating the outer housing accordingly and then re-gluing, not the best should you want to fit aftermarket track or adjust the idler for the kit track. The tensioning handle is a little on the thin side and care is needed not to break this off as it sticks up the air just asking to be broken.
The Miniart idler wheels have the tyre section separate with the two part rims (front and back) added from each side of the tyre section and are designed to just glue to the axle stub, the idler rims also have nice details included but not quite as well defined as the AFV Club idler details.
All the bogie/drive sprocket/idler sub-assemblies fit precisely to the hull tub without any problems on both kits.
The AFV Club kit includes full length vinyl track that has quite nice detail for the medium including the open guide horn holes which gives a good appearance to the track when fitted. The main problem with vinyl track is getting the tension correct so it sits properly (tightly) around the sprocket/idler and around the first and last road wheel and this track is no exception. I had to cut two track links off to get the right amount of tension to sit snugly around the running gear but the track also refused to glue together with plastic cement or even cyanoacrylate (super glue). I resorted to tying the track ends together with thin wire and then hide the join behind the fenders, another issue was due to the tightness of the track I had to firmly glue the drive sprocket in place as leaving it free to rotate saw its alignment distorted due to the track tension.
The Miniart kit has individual link non-working track that is designed to be glued together around the running gear which isn’t a big deal but means you can’t easily add and remove the track to aid painting etc. detail on the track links is rather poor by today’s standards with each link moulded solid without the guide tooth openings which even AFV Club managed to include in their vinyl track and replacing the kit track with aftermarket track will greatly improve the final appearance of the kit.
Track detail images
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