ARM: Review - Miniart 1/35 scale Pzkw. Mk. III 749(e) Valentine III

Kit Review: Miniart 1/35 scale Kit No. 35100; Pz. Kpfw. Mk. III 749(e)
Valentine Mk. III w/Crew; 771 parts (693 in grey styrene, 78 etched
brass); retail price US$85.00
Advantages: beautifully done model of this widely used Commonwealth
vehicle; redesigned turret as per its prototype; interior parts for
turret and driver=92s compartment; layout makes upgrading with
aftermarket kits relatively easy
Disadvantages: Single link tracks will be tedious to assemble;
extremely expensive
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all Commonwealth or Soviet armor fans, and in this
case the obligatory =93captured=94 tank fans
Miniart has now provided another in its impressive line of Valentine
tanks, in this case a Mark III with a completely new turret. This
turret has a commander=92s cupola with unique three-section hatch at the
rear of the turret roof vice the two flaps of the Marks I and II. All
of the rest of the earlier kits is still here, as well as the radiator
and transmission bay detail set from the Mark I kit.
The kit still provides a very complete and complex 2-pdr gun with
slide-molded barrrel and a very detailed Besa and breech assembly for
the interior of the turret. Note that while the gun and a complete No.
19 Wireless Set (with etched brass =93cage=94 parts) are provided no seats
are provided. However, there is some level of detail now present in
the Mark III turret as well as optional position pistol port covers.
The driver=92s position is relatively complete with controls, panels,
and seat, and both hatches may be posed open to show it. However, none
of the crew members are posed to fit it.
The suspension does a nice representation of the variant of the =93Slo-
Mo-Shun=94 suspension used on Vickers designs. The small road wheels
come with separate fronts and backs, and the large ones are in two
parts with a separate tire. This is neater than some other options.
Each driver consists of six parts to get the proper look. Even the
springs =96 molded parts - are nearly flash and seam free.
However, each side takes 98 track links and these are small and come
from sprues; cleanup and assembly will be tedious so prepare in
advance for an evening or two on those. The good news is that the
tracks fit well once the =93nubs=94 are cleaned up, so at least none of
them require the even worse filing and fiddling to assemble. Based on
my experiences with them it would be a good idea to make a jig from a
section of scrap plastic and a thick section of strip; this permits
accurate horizontal and vertical alignment and making sections of 10
at a time for easier final assembly. The main thing here is to use a
slow-setting plastic cement that provides flexibility for final
adjustment during fitting to the model. (Note that the Canadian built
ones used a high level of manganese in the tracks; they do not rust
but acquire a brown patina through oxidation, so bright red rust
finishing is not correct).
The rest of the model is pretty straightforward. One word of warning:
this kit is closer to the Tristar efforts in that it requires precise
fit and trimming to get the parts in place; =93that=92s close=94 will not
work and cause a lot of frustration. I failed to get a clean assembly
job on the turret hatch covers by not paying attention (another reason
I was glad to get a second kit!).
All of the covers and shrouds on the engine deck are separate parts
and will give a great deal of depth to the finished model. However,
etched brass parts are integral to the kit and thus require mandatory
use; sorry DML fans, no options. This time another 24 etched brass
parts have been added to the previous 54. The photo etched parts are
not backed by card as many other companies provide to ensure flat
shipping, but are coated with adhesive film on both sides which seems
to work well in protecting the parts.
The tank provides the =93Heath Robinson=94 spring loaded antiaircraft
mount for the Bren antiaircraft light machine gun, which consists of
six parts. But for this kit, the directions show the Bren gun (which
comes with a drum magazine and bipod) attached to the turret roof; it
now has a rest and the spring arm is shown as attaching to the Bren
gun. There is also a nice six part turret antenna mount.
The figures provide an Afrika Korps officer and two other ranks with
the officer in side cap and binoculars, one NCO standing with side cap
and one enlisted man with Pith helmet. But as these figures are
basically generic, there are no places or locations given for them
with the vehicle. All are standing and the case can be made the
officer should be leaning out of the commander=92s hatch.
A color booklet with finishing directions is provided for six
different vehicles: 7. Panzer Regiment, 10th Panzer Division, Libya
1942 (sand with white and black crosses, and a white buffalo on the
turret side); Unidentified Brigade, 3rd Ukranian Front, winter 1943
(whitewash over green); A Company, 50th RTR, 23rd Armoured Brigade,
Libya 1942 (sand and green, yellow triangle, unit code 67); Unknown
brigade, Baranovichi, Belolrussia, summer 1944 (green with Russian
shipping directions, T121991); VENGEANCE, 6th Armoured Division, Tunis
spring 1943 (green, red/white/red flash, Red 1, T22152); 19th RTR, 4th
(NZ) Armoured Brigade, Tunis spring 1943 (sand and green, white 21
with brigade flash).
Overall this kit continues to advance the family of Valentines and
should be appreciated by Commonwealth modelers. But the high price and
=93German=94 press may put many people off, even though it is three counts
Commonwealth, two counts Soviet, and only a single count =93captured=94.
Thanks to Bob Lewen for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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