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

by Terry Ashley


The construction is straight out of the box as the kit was built as a display model for use by the Australian Trumpeter Distributors at trade shows and construction time was short.

Step 1 to 6 covers the suspension, road wheels and track. All parts are separate and after the usual cleanup of mould seams construction was straight forward but there are a few small things to watch.
On the rear idler mount assembly parts A15 have sizable pin ejector marks which need filling as these are easily seen when the assemblies are glued to the rear hull. Care needs to be taken when fitting the return roller supports to get these in the right direction in relation to the hull sides. The hull sides are slightly sloped and the supports must be level to the horizontal once fitted while the return rollers themselves must line up on an even plane and it is easy to fit the supports and rollers the wrong way around.
The suspension units and axles are easily fitted to cut-outs in the hull sides while the axles have pins to ensure the correct direction. It is possible to fit the rear idler axle at any direction which will effect the track tension but as the instructions do not show which is the optimum direction you could wait till test fitting the track for the best fit. I chose to glue these almost vertically and the track tension worked out okay.
The road wheels have poly caps trapped between them for easy fitting but I left the wheels off to make painting easier while I glued the idler wheels in place for a more secure fitting. I also left off the drive sprockets and track until later as it is almost impossible to fit the track with the drive sprockets glued in place, more on fitting the track later .


Step 7 and 8 is the rear hull plate/door and upper hull assembly.
The rear panels can be tricky to fit but I found it easier to glue the two side panels (parts C60 and C67) to the rear panel (part C10) before fitting to the rear hull.
After these parts had dried completely I then attached the assembly to the rear hull along with the two side storage box faces (parts C2 and C59) and the upper hull. The fit of the upper/lower hull and rear panel assembly was superb and no filler was needed anywhere for this.
The rear door can be shown open if you wish and comes complete with many inside detail parts, but as there is no interior to show off you will probably just glue the door closed as I did. I also left off the side skirts at this point until after painting as this is easier than painting and fitting the track now leaving you a large masking job when painting the hull. I will mention more on this in the painting section later.

Step 8 to 11 is the attachment of the many small details items on the forward hull and apart from a couple of these requiring pin ejector marks filled (parts C54 and C55) there were no problems here. The large barrel travel lock is movable once attached so take care not to glue the moving parts if you want this feature, it does work well and is easy to fit the barrel in the travel lock at any stage for display, but it should be noted that the travel lock is the incorrect type for the 39calibre version as the one in the kit is for the 52calibre version only and some surgery will be needed to fix this. The driver’s hatch can be shown open if you wish but again as there is no interior it’s best to glue closed and the driver’s optics (parts C47, C48) are in the wrong position and should be further back up against the hatch front.
The only alteration to the kit was the replacement of the side mirror supports (parts C30 and C31) with thin wire as the kit items are very thin and snapped even when just looking at them; they also stick out just asking to be broken off and the wire supports fixed this. I bumped the mirrors several times while painting which would have meant a repair job if attached as they came, this is not a criticism of the kit, the posts have nice scale thickness but it does leave them fragile and prone to damage.


Step 12 to 13 is the main turret storage/tool boxes. Again there were no problems here but do watch the placement of the large turret side storage boxes as one is smaller (Toolbox B) than the other four (Toolbox A) but the instructions show the two on the left side of the turret as Toolbox B, only the rear box is Toolbox B. Another thing to note is the storage boxes should not sit flush with the turret as per the kit but have small spacers to lift them off the turret walls, this is only about 1mm in this scale but can be seen in photographs. The side turret door is again a separate part which I glued closed and the rear turret panel also fitted without problems.

Step 14 is the assembly of the rear turret fittings. The large auxiliary power unit has some nice grill work included but did require some filler as the fit was not perfect for parts (D30 and D7). Care should be taken not to destroy the grill work and bolt head detail when sanding the filler.
The large storage cage on the rear turret roof also proved a problem; firstly the part numbers are wrong in the instructions with parts E4 and E5 transposed. Templates are given to cut the mesh but you should add about 1mm to the height before cutting for a better fit.
The cage panels did not fit properly and some trimming was needed on the rear panel (part E5), the three front angular panels (parts E3, E6 and E7) also need trimming to get a good fit especially to get the angles correct.


Step 15 to 16 the turret hatches and fittings.
Both turret hatches can be assembled open or closed but again as there is no interior I glued these closed, all other items fitted without problems.

Step 17 is the main gun mantlet box. Unfortunately the instructions are a mess here with the four panels on the mantlet box numbered wrongly resulting in a mirror image of the box if assembly per the instructions.
The correct parts numbers are part D9 should be D3, D3 should be D9, D4 should be D8 and D8 should be D4. Also some filler was needed on the joins and care should be taken when sanding not to destroy the details on the parts. Apart from these problems the large mantlet and front securing panel (part D5) are nicely detailed and have nice weld seam and bolt head details included. (Note; the two side panels are shown the wrong way around in the photos of the model as I did not see the mistake until too late, if more time was available to build the model this would have been fixed)

Step 18 is the main 155mm barrel.
Construction is straight forward with the barrel being in the usual two halves requiring the seam to be removed, but the barrel itself is too long with the length from the front of the fume extractor to the muzzle break being 76mm (3”) while it should only be 55mm (2 3/16 “) and there is also some detail missing from just in front of the fume extractor. You get an insert section to make the 52 Calibre barrel if you choose this instead of the 39 Calibre barrel, the barrel sections have keyed pins to ensure correct alignment of the barrel when fitted to the mantlet but the incorrect barrel length will be transferred to this as well.

Step 19 is the final assembly although I left the turret and hull separate for painting. The small laser on the mantlet required a small wedge of plastic card under the front edge to ensure it aligned correctly with the barrel and you should watch the direction of the front plate (part D20) as it is easy to fit this upside down, believe me.

This completes the construction in what proved to be quick and easy with only small areas needing attention as above and the final model has a nice level of details included for an impressive looking AS-90. But as mentioned there are some areas that require attention but the overall effect is very impressive.

As mentioned the kit was built quickly and this applies to the paint job as well. After an overall coat of Humbrol Authentic (yes I still have some stashed away) HP4 British Army Deep Bronze Green I airbrushed the flat black pattern. Some photos show a hard edge on the black while some have a fine feathered edge so I guess it’s a case of checking your references for the version you are building for this.
After the paint had dried I applied a few coats of XtraColor Gloss to the areas where the decals would go.
The decals went on easily using the Micro Set/Sol decal setting solution and after these had dried an overall coat of Matt varnish was applied and allowed to dry for a few days before the weathering process.
This was again very basic with only a black wash applied around the raised details to highlight these and dry brushing with various lighter colours. Finally a light misting of “dust” was added around the suspension, lower hull and especially on the rear of the vehicle as this tends to collect a lot of dust and dirt.

Back to the First Look review of the kit.

Page Created 12 April 2003

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