First Look Review
Kit No.00324 British 155mm AS-90 self-propelled howitzer

by Terry Ashley

Trumpeter are well into the long list of kits first announced some time ago and we now see the first modern British vehicle from the list in the form of the AS-90 SPG. With each new release Trumpeter seems to be improving their quality, and this kit continues this tend.

The kit:
This consists of 297 parts in a dark olive green plastic, a length of twine, a small sheet of mesh, poly caps for the wheels and two lengths of vinyl track, the decal sheet and obviously the instruction sheet.
The quality of the mouldings is excellent with no evident flash although there is some minor cleanup required on some parts and some impressive pin ejector marks on others (more on that later) but overall there are no problems. The parts show good details with weld seams around the turret and hull, plus nice bolt head details along with engraved lines where applicable, there are also some small parts requiring careful handling.

The Lower Hull/Suspension:
The lower hull tub is just that; a simple tub with no added details, while this sounds boring it is because every part of the suspension is in separate parts.
The suspension attachment points are fitted to indentations on the hull sides and attached to these are the axles and road wheels. The return rollers and their mountings are also separate parts as are the idler wheel attachment points, shock absorbers and final drive housings. The idler and road wheels have a poly caps trapped between the two halves while the drive sprockets are glued direct to the final drives axles, the sprockets also have bolt head detail on the inside of both the inner and outer sprockets. The road wheels also have separate centre hubs for good definition. The result of all these separate parts is a well detailed suspension assembly.

The Upper Hull:
The one piece upper hull moulding has nice details including weld seams, bolt details and the large intake grills over the engine compartment. There are many smaller items added to the hull front including panel hinges and handles as well as a 9 part barrel travel lock on the hull front and multipart indicator light assemblies on each fender. The main head lights also have separate “glass’ pieces and while these are in the same olive plastic it allows you to paint them before attaching for good definition. The light guards don’t have the small front bars but as these are very thin on the real vehicle they would be way over scale if provided and it is easy to add these from thin sprue, so this isn’t really a problem.
On the rear hull there is a multipart rear panel with the large door as a separate part which also includes details on the inside of the door. This is where the pin ejector marks are evident, these are either raised above the surface or indented on raised detail which makes them east to remove or fill. There are also numerous parts added to the inside of the door if this is shown open?
The full length side skirts have nice details as well as separate front and rear mud flaps; these could do with thinning at the edges for a better scale appearance.

The Turret:
The turret is one large moulding which again has weld seam detail along the front panel joins as well as around the hatch coamings, with a separate rear plate and lower section. As with the hull all the details are separate parts from the top hatches which also have details on the inside, although there are more of the pin ejector marks here. They are easy to remove as they are in the raised pads which are above the other details and the hatches can be shown open or closed as you wish? The rear plate also has separate details including the large auxiliary power unit with nice louver and bolt head details on the parts.
The large side storage boxes are also multipart for good definition. The large storage ‘cage’ on the turret roof uses the mesh provided on its sides and there are other smaller parts to be added. The 7.62mm GPMG and the front plate smoke discharges have fairly bland details compared to some of the other parts.

The 155mm Gun:
The large mantlet/gun mount is a multipart assembly with nice details on the parts as a result, with this assembly fitting inside the turret mounting which again has nice details including weld seam and bolt details.
With the main gun you can either model the 39 calibre or the 52 calibre cannon, this is achieved by providing the 39 calibre gun in two halves with the usual join seam to remove as is normal kit design and a separate concertina covering between the mantlet and fume extractor, this doesn’t have the characteristic sag as seen on most photos but has good ‘fold’ definition while the large muzzle break is integral with the two barrel halves and looks good with the characteristic concave end section. To model the 52 calibre gun you are provided with two ‘inserts’ that fit between the concertina covering and fume extractor to achieve the longer barrel length, simple but effective.

The Tracks:
These are of the continuous length vinyl type and have nice details on both sides including clear gaps between each track link and the centre section. These should look nice on the model and as there is no ‘sag’ on AS-90 tracks these would be perfectly adequate.

The Decals:
A large decal sheets is provided with good quality printing and thin carrier film on the decals. Markings are provided for 8 vehicles with IFOR, SFOR markings. Unfortunately only one vehicle is shown on the painting guide and again in colour on the box sides, with only Gunze Mr.Color paint numbers shown. You will have to provide your own reference for the other markings.

The Instructions:
There are in the usual exploded view drawings common with main steam kits (except Dragon of course) and are easy to follow.

Overall this is a very nice kit with some nice details to build into a large impressive model, like any kit there is room for improvement or additional details to be added.
I may be a little biased here but I think this is a really ‘sexy’ looking vehicle as are the other two current generation British AFVs, the Warrior and Challenger II and it’s great to see this vehicle now in plastic.
The inclusion of the alternate barrel length gives some variety and a good excuse to buy two kits, that’s if modern armour fans needed an excuse?

Click here for a full construction review of the kit with images of the finished model.

The Sprues
Click for larger view

Page Created 9 January 2003

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