ARM: Review - DML 1/72 Challenger 2 with Bar Armor

Kit Review: DML 1/72 scale Armor Pro Kit No. 7287; Challenger 2 w/Bar
Armor;
150 parts (126 parts in grey styrene, 20 etched brass, 4 DS plastic);
retail price US $13.98
Advantages: improved version of original kit; modern armor arrays
newly done
Disadvantages: bar armor array not full convincing
Rating: Recommended
Recommendation: for all small-scale British and engineer vehicle fans
Following two months after the Challenger 2 with bulldozer kit (No.
7285) is this kit with the latest "fad" among armored vehicle
designers - bar armor. All major countries are now looking to it, and
the US, UK, Russia and China actually field vehicles carrying it.
Bar armor - also called slat armor, grille armor or the truly unique
Chinese name of "boom shields" - is a simple idea whose origins go
back to WWII when shaped charge explosive weapons fired at low
velocities began to proliferate. The main threat to the Western
countries came from the "Panzerfaust" weapons, and those of the
Germans were the PIAT, bazooka and other similar weapons. The concept
is simple: put lightweight (relatively speaking) steel slats on the
sides of the vehicle spaced out to the nominal optimum standoff
distance for the shaped charge and either detonate it prematurely or
cause its warhead to be crushed and rendered useless between the bars.
As such, the bars are 50 to 100 mm inches wide and spaced about 60-70
mm apart (most weapons of this type are from 73 to 152 mm in
diameter.)
The Chinese offer their "boom shields" as options on all tanks from
the Type 59D onward; they were first encountered in Iraq during Desert
Storm in 1991. The Russians now mount and use them on various
vehicles, having tested their original concepts in Afghanistan and
fielded them in Chechnya. The US and UK have created sets for use with
their vehicles in Iraq, and right now at least the UK Warrior and US
Stryker vehicles there mount full sets.
The Challenger 2 is a natural for this sort of protection, for it
provides very good protection against RPG and ATGM fire for relatively
little weight. (The Stryker kit weighs about 2.5 metric tons.) As a
result it is used to protect the most vulnerable parts of the tank,
namely the hull and turret rear areas where the armor is thinnest. A
very good explanation and show of these items has appeared in recent
issues of "Military Modelling" with Dick Taylor covering Warrior and
Peter Brown the Challenger 2 fits.s.
This again is the reworked DML kit with "slide molded" components and
DS plastic tracks. The latter should be appreciated as they are more
flexible and since they take normal plastic cements also easier to
install and paint; also this particular kit now includes DS plastic
tow cables. This is a good idea as they are flexible, highly detailed
but easy to paint and attach (more in the other scales, please!)
While the hull still comes with the original screw attachment holes
and mounts, the parts now simply cement together. It now comes with
modified uparmored skirts less the ground-length dust covers, applique
armor for the glacis and the bow, and the TIP armor panels for the
sides of the turret. The "4 x 8 plywood" ones for the turret glacis
are not included, but I am not sure if they go on the variant modeled.
The model comes with hatches that can be positioned open or closed,
but again the driver's hatch opens onto one of the screw holes. Note
that the direction arrows STILL show the cover (part A38) cementing
into the screw hole; most modelers will figure that one out in a
hurry, but I do wonder why DML didn't correct their original error?
The kit now includes the modified armor panels and arrays for the
modifications needed to mount the bar armor. The bar armor array is
all etched brass, including its mounts, and requires bending and
folding. The main turret and hull armor arrays are single parts and
therefore make assembly a bit easier, but they are very thin and very
fragile so a great deal of care will be required. (If you don't have a
"Hold and Fold," "Etch-Mate," or "Fender Bender" getting good bends in
parts this thin and this large will be problematic.)
The one major problem is that the actual bar armor arrays are about
3/16" of an inch thick and about 2" deep; while smaller and thinner
than the other countries' arrays, this is a near impossibility to
accurately reproduce in 1/72 scale. The bars thus have no depth to
them, and it is doubtful many modelers will go through the misery of
gluing 0.010" square strip to each bar to give the impression of
depth. The result is a pleasing look only when viewed broadside on, as
the rest of the views show them to be far too simple and too thin.
Having just done a model of a T-72B with "Reshyetka" grille armor
arrays, I can sympathize with DML's plight as I had to opt the other
direction, using slightly overscale thickness in 1/35 scale to get
sufficient durability.
Still, DML should be commended for this, as few other kits with any
sort of bar armor have shown up over the years. There are several for
the Chinese "boom shields" to fit to T-54 or T-55 type tanks, and at
least two have been advertised for the new Stryker kits. All are
etched brass as well, and all require soldering skills for clean
assembly.
The kit does come with a small decal sheet, but only one recommended
paint scheme for the Royal Dragoon Guards Armour Regiment in Poland,
2006. However, the only vehicle known to be fitted with this armor
right now is the one photographed by Peter Brown at the ACTU at
Bovington, so I cannot verify the accuracy of the claims. (The model
does match with Peter's photos, however.)
Overall I think DML has made a game effort of it and that most
modelers will be pleased with the kit as provided.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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AMPSOne
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