Kit Review: Italeri 1/35th Scale Kit No. 6456; Autoblinda AB 40 Ferroviaria; 197 parts (193 in light brown styrene, 4 black vinyl); price US$45.00
Advantages: another variation on this armored car; track section useful for display (only if on a base)
Disadvantages: no major items noted
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for "railway," armored car and Italian armor fans
One thing nearly every country that used armored cars (less the US, which was not as much of a believer in light reconnaissance as other countries) eventually adapted them for use on railways. This was not too difficult as most railways in Europe used standard gauge (4 feet 8 =BD inches) so as long as the inner track of the vehicle was no more than 1.435 meters the vehicle could easily be fitted with flanged railroad wheels. The vehicles could then be used for useful patrol vehicles along railways, assisting in fire support against partisan activities and other security missions. (The other reason seems to be the loss of a single armored car and a crew of two or three was preferable to a locomotive, crew and several train cars, but I am sure none of the armored car crews were given a choice of that kind of math!)
Italeri has now provided the railway version of its very nice AB 40 armored car kit with flanged railway wheels. These obsolete armored cars were used in Yugoslavia against Tito's partisans first by the Italians and later by the Germans.
Italeri's kit comes with two short sections of rails and ties (no bases, which is actually better as it lets the modeler come up with more realistic roadbed than injection-molded or vacuformed ones) that cleverly and realistically have fish plates joining them together. There is only enough to mount the model, however, and anyone wishing to put the model in a diorama will have to get some DML or Trumpeter1/35 scale track.
The model comes with four tires and original "highway" wheels, so it does present a number of opportunities to show the model in road condition, changing over, or rail mode. The directions don't quite cover this (e.g. where to put the solid flanged wheels) but it is an option. It also has the essential railway sand bins on the front fenders as well as guards.
The rest of the model is pretty much the previous release of this kit with the twin machine gun turret. The model provides separate hull and engine access hatches as well as separate turret hatches but no interior components. The machine guns (there are four included) come with basic breech detail at least, so with some useful references an interior is possible.
Molding is very sharp and clear, and as is obvious to anyone sampling Italeri's recent fare they are putting heart and soul into their Italian subjects; I just wish it were across-the-board on some of their other efforts.
Finishing options cover a vehicle in Italian service in Yugoslavia (1942) and one in German service (1944). Number plates are provided for the Italian one (RE 375 B) but the German one only sports crosses. The Italian one is in sand and the German one in a tricolor scheme apropos for later in the war.
Overall this is a nice offbeat subject and very well done.
Thanks to Bob Lewen of MRC for the review sample.