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Churchill Mk.IV A.V.R.E with S.B.G. Assault Bridge
1:35 Conversion/Scatchbuild by Terry Ashley

This conversion was built about 20+ years ago before the end of last century, long before any Mk.IV turrets/conversion sets were available and was built using the Tamiya kit No.35100 ‘Churchill Mk.VII Crocodile’ (first released in 1977) as a basis with all the alterations done using various plastic card, plastic strip and filler with a scratch built SBG Bridge again from plastic card and strip.

The first step in any project of this sort is to obtain as much data and reference as possible and to this end I enlarged a set of 1/76th scale plans from the Bellona book “The Funnies” to 1/35th scale using a photocopier.
An article in the September 1978 issue of ‘Military Modelling Magazine’ on building a bridglayer also had basic 1/35th scale plans and AVRE fittings drawings, comparing my blown up plans with these allowed me to determine the correct dimensions.
The Tamiya Photographic Album No.3 on the Churchill Tank also has some excellent sectional diagrams on the Mk.IV Churchill which proved most useful.

Subsequently there have also been 1/35th plans of the Mk.IV printed in the January 1988 issue of Panzer Magazine and the November 1993 issue of Tank magazine which have additional small details not shown on the initial plans I used.

The first step was to convert the hull from the Mk.VII to MK.IV standard. The Mk.VII hull is approx. 4mm wider in 1/35th than the Mk.IV but this is something I chose to live with. The suspension was built as per kit instructions and then the fun started.

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The Hull/Turret Conversion:
Starting from the front, the angle of the fender cut-out was altered to the straight line and not curved as on the kit and mud channels where added from thin card on the lower hull panel.
The two large AVRE attachment points were fashioned from card and rod and glued in place; these are fairly easy to build as most of the parts are flat plates.
The new side escape hatches were also made from card and strip with the bolt heads liberated from an old Tamiya M3 Lee kit (great source of bolt heads). These were also used for the approx. 40 small bolt heads that were added to the front and rear of the side panels. It is best to mark lines on the plastic with a soft pencil when adding the bolt heads to ensure they line up straight.
The four large rounded bolt heads on the hull side were made by rounding the end of a plastic rod and then inserting into pre-drilled holes.

The exhaust shrouds needed modification as the top part does not have the three panels as on the Mk.VII, these were simple shaved off to get a smooth finish and the top exhaust covers (parts B14) were left off.

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The Front Hull was completely rebuilt with the only parts used from the Mk.VII kit being the headlights, Besa MG and front towing shackle.
The right top hatch was from the kit with the addition of the handle from this card while the left hatch was replaced with the Pentard reload hatch made from thin card and strip plastic. The kit pericopes and central ventilator were removed and replaced with items from the Airfix Crusader III kit.
The glacis and other details were made form thin card and boltheads “borrowed” from various old kits, this is a good source of rivets and bolt heads so don’t throw away those old kits. The front bridge mountings were also made from plastic card.

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The rear hull plate was modified by removing the moulded on bolt heads and box plus the addition of a smaller first aid box on the right side of the panel.
The biggest addition was the steel girder winch box which was made from thin strips of plastic card firstly glued together to make the beams and in turn the beams glued to form the box and support beams and smaller fittings also from plastic card. The winding handles were from thick wire with the winch cable from thread.

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The Mk.VII turret was used as a basis for the conversion and by adding some plastic card layers at the front and liberal amounts of filler the new Mk.IV turret shape was arrived at after considerably sanding, adding more filler where needed and more sanding. The commander’s and loader’s hatches were made from card for the hatches and hinge details plus some items from the original kit as well as ‘liberated’ from other kits and thin plastic strip was used for making the sighting vane.

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The Petard mortar was made from a length of plastic tube with ‘rifling’ in the form of thin card strips added to the insides. The mounting brackets were from card and rod with the loading spring from wound up copper wire and the MG guard from a piece of spare brass plate bent to shape.

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The SBG Bridge:
This was made entirely from plastic card with the side girders carefully laid on the plans and cut to shape. The sides were actually two panels glued together and while doing this a small rebate was left to allow the top and bottom panels to ‘sit’ in place for a more secure fit and making fitting the sides, top and bottom together a lot easier.
The wood slates on the top of the bridge was also lengths of thicker plastic card with the wood grain details scribed in and roughened up with course sandpaper.

The A beams were from plastic rod and the two pulleys were again made from plastic discs and the bridge cable from thick thread. This was strung around the pulleys just like the real thing and helped take the weight of the bridge again just like the real thing. The cable it attached to the bridge with an explosive bolt connected by cable to the turret to allow the quick dropping of the bridge under combat conditions and I used this feature to make a small fitting that clipped together allowing the two sections of cable to be unclipped so the bridge could be removed for transporting the model or storage.

The final resting place for the bridgelayer was a scene built using three Verlinden plaster buildings and canal wall section plus heaps of rubble and other bits and pieces.

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the Funnies
A History with scale plans of the 79th Armoured Division

Geoffrey W. Futter
ISBN 0 85242 405 1
Tamiya Photographic Album No.3
British Churchill Tank

Tamiya Plastic Model Co.
Churchill Infantry Tank 1941-51
New Vanguard No.4
Osprey Publishing
ISBN 1 85532 297 8
Mr. Churchill's Tank
The British Infantry Tank Mk.IV

Schiffer Military Publications
ISBN 0-7643-0679-0

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