ARM: Review - Italeri 1/35 scale Carro Armato L6/40 PRM Kit

Kit Review: Italeri 1/35 scale Kit No. 6469; Carro Armato L6/40 PRM
kit; 257 parts (243 in tan styrene, 12 etched brass, 2 clear plastic)
plus 48-page history and modeler=92s guide; retail price US$59
Advantages: first kit of this vehicle in this scale in styrene;
partial interior useful as it is easy to open up and show details
Disadvantages: track links very petite and will need care in removing
them from the sprues; no engine
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for Italian and North Africa fans
The Italians had the same basic outlook on armored vehicles prior to
WWII and as such created three different classes of vehicles:
tankettes (carro veloce) or CV of a nominal three metric tons; light
tanks (L) of six metric tons; and medium tanks (M) of 11-14 metric
tons. The first were armed with one or two machine guns in 8mm to
13.2mm caliber; the second with a 20mm cannon and machine guns, and
the third with 37-47mm guns. But like the prewar American tanks, by
the time they went into combat they were woefully obsolete, and the
Italians never did catch up with contemporary armored designs before
the end of their war in 1943. (They did have some more promising
designs on the way but the war ended for Italy before they got into
series production and widespread use.)
The best information source so far on this unlucky little vehicle is
happily the book which comes with the kit =96 according to it, by 1943
about 450 of these vehicles were built. Theoretically in the same
class as the Soviet T-26, they were closed in concept and capability
to the Soviet T-60 and not as well designed. Only a few survived the
war and one of them is used in this book as a photo reference for
modelers. (The book also includes manual diagrams for those who want
to =93tweak=94 the kit, a great idea!)
Italeri made a splash in the modeling world 33 years ago when they
released their M13/40 medium tank kit. While it was later noted as
having a number of flaws and problems, it was a step ahead of anything
else on the market at the time and did make Tamiya wake up to the fact
they now had a worthy competitor. (They later produced their own
M13/40, and modelers still argue about which one is better on the
internet.) But other than the Semovente 75/18 they never produced any
other Italian armor kits until today with the release of the L6/40
light tank.
This kit is not as earthshaking as the M13/40 was in 1975, but it is
a very nicely done kit in its own right and for fans of Italian armor
a =93must have.=94 It comes with an interior for the front part of the
hull and the inside of the turret; while the rear engine access doors
are separate there is no engine for the engine bay, so that will wait
on the after-market boys.
The moldings are of a higher standard than some recent Italeri kits
and there is even rivet detail INSIDE the turret shell, as a matter of
reference. Most of the ejector pin marks are in inconspicuous places
so not a major problem. Some parts such as the 20mm Breda cannon are
simplified so perhaps some may want to wait on an after-market detail
set.
The tracks are =93link and length=94, but as with the original are very
small and narrow or about the size of 1/72 scale main battle tank
sized links. Extreme care will be needed in removing the single links
for =93wrapping=94 the tracks though as Italeri has the sprue connections
in the center of the sides of the links rather than on their ends.
While I think they did this to ensure a good and complete link would
be formed, it makes it more difficult to get a clean cut. As these
links have to =93nest=94 one inside the one in front of it they also will
have to be cleaned up, so plan on taking some time to get it right.
The suspension can be adjusted if desired and left partially working,
which can help in installing the tracks but at least with =93link and
length=94 will not cause the bowing that other Italeri suspensions
caused with vinyl tracks.
There are five different finishing options provided in the kit: 31st
Mechanized Regiment, Balkans, September 1943 (tricolor with white
rectangles and a cartoon lion); 31st Mechanized Regiment, June 1943
(tricolor with white circles and Mickey Mouse; however on this decal
sheet Mickey has gone =93blind=94 as the eyes were left out!); Novara
Lancers, North Africa 1942 (sand with eagle insignia and white 2);
67th Bersaglieri Battalion, Russia 1942 (sand and green with blue
rectangles); and German Anti-Partisan forces, Balkans 1944 (tricolor
with crosses).
From the breakout of the parts the answer is yes, Italeri obviously
plans to follow this kit up with the Semovente da 47/32 tank destroyer
variant.
Overall the kit is nicely done and while a bit pricey to some does
come with the book, which would easily got for $18 or more on its own.
With obscure items, kudos to Italeri for using this method of helping
modelers get good references with the kit!
Thanks to Ed Sexton of MRC for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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AMPSOne
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