The IDF received their first Mk.II Centurions (Sho't) in 1959 followed by later Mk.III And Mk.5 types which still retained the 20Pdr main gun with both Type A and Type B barrels (with fume extractor). They also retained the original Centurion Meteor engine with minor modifications for additional IDF equipment and this new kit represents this initial IDF Mk.5 configuration with the 20 Pdr Type B barrel.
As a bonus in the first production run kits there is also the L7 105mm gun to allow you to build the first Sho't type modified to take this gun. Both these types saw action in the 1967 Six-Day war before receiving more extensive modifications such as the US Continental AVDS diesel engine for the Centurion Ben-Gurion that saw action in the 1973 Yon Kippur war.
This new kit is basically the same as kit #AF35122 Centurion Mk.5/2, 6 which in turn inherited most parts from the first kit #AF35100 Centurion Mk. 5/1 RAAC with the addition parts on sprues H, N and S plus an additional small etched fret and two small decal sheets for the IDF Sho't and therefore much of the review below will be the same as for the previous kits with additional comments on the alterations for this version.
The kits consists of 374 parts in olive drab plastic, 18 in clear plastic with a metal barrel, six large suspension springs, 26 vinyl tyres and the vinyl tracks plus a length of twine for the tow cable and a selection of vinyl poly caps with two small etched frets and the decal sheet plus of course the instruction sheet.
The quality of the mouldings is excellent overall with some very minor flash on some parts which is easily removed and quite a few large knock out nodes on the inside of the larger parts which again are easily removed and don’t effect to detail in any way.
Detail on the parts is excellent with some weld seams present as well as nice cast texture on the turret and final drives plus some very finely moulded parts such as separate grab handles and turret basket rails to finely represented springs on the hatch hinges but as with any kit there are areas for improvement.
The clear parts provided for the Commander’s cupola periscopes and all other periscopes are moulded in a ‘softer’ clear plastic than the usual brittle clear plastic making it much easier to work with while still being nice and clear.
The large lower hull tub has the distinctive angled sides with nice weld beads around the final drive mountings and front plate supports with all other detail as separate parts. The rear hull plate is nicely designed with two upper ‘pins’ that fit into holes in the hull sides taking any guesswork out of where this part is located with the final drive housings are two parts with excellent details on the outer and inner sections that overhang the lower hull that include the bolt head details and nice cast texture to the surface.
The drive sprockets have excellent details on both sides of the sprockets including the complicated rib and hub details and bolt heads with a small poly cap trapped between the two sprockets for fitting to the final drive axle.
At the front is a separate idler axle mounting and axle which can be fitted at different angles with small ribs inside the axle mounting and you can fit the axles without glue if you wish making it easy to reposition the axles later. The front of the idler mountings are filled in with separate inserts for the large bolts (parts H12,H13,H18 and H19) and these are identified in the instructions with this kit.
There are actually three different style of idler wheel seen on these Centurions
with the kit only having the one ribbed style of wheel and you should check
to see if the vehicle you are building has this style wheel.
The idler again has a poly cap trapped between the two halves and a separate hub cap for good detail definition.
The four duel return rollers have nice hub details with separate mountings plus the additional single roller added just behind the idler wheel to help prevent track loss and this is a simple steel wheel unlike the other rubber rimmed rollers. The single roller fitted to the final drive housing is also an all steel wheel but some vehicles have a rubber rimmed wheel here which again is an alternate style used on the Cent but the kit only included the steel rollers for these positions.
The six big bogie units have movable main axle mountings with a large spring
trapped between the two just like the real bogies with the front and rear
bogies also having additional suspension arms that are sort of workable? The
connecting rod and top arm (parts E8/E9, E20) are designed to be movable by
heat melting the attachment pins but the lower connecting rod attachment point
is glued into place meaning when the suspension in compressed the connecting
rod just bends while the top connections articulate which is a strange set
When the large front and rear halves of the bogies are glued together and the wheels attached the large springs are completely hidden, but we all know they are there.
Turning to the road wheels we have a very interesting design with the inner and outer road wheel having excellent bolt head detail and a small weld seam around the outer edge as well as the six lightening holes. These again trap a small poly cap between them and the outer rubber section of the wheels is provided in black vinyl.
This is not just the rubber wheels section but actually includes the outer wheel rim which when fitted to the plastic inner rim includes the ribbed area inside the outer wheel dish for a very well detailed look. Painting will be a little tricky but the overall effects on the wheel detail in very good as kit road wheels traditionally have missed the detail on the outer dish sections.
One thing I found was that the poly caps trapped inside the road wheels were very difficult to fit over the axle stubs and I ended up drilling out the inside of the poly cap to open up the hole width, not real easy with flexible vinyl but they did fit better after doing this. You may simply resort to gluing the road wheels in place for a more solid assembly.
The assembled bogie units have very precise locating lugs for the hull sides and the large contact area means a very strong join to the hull, just watch the connecting rod on the rear bogie unit as this may foul the final drive housing if the back of the pin heat join is not trimmed sufficiently.
At the back is an elaborate exhaust deflector and upper grill assembly that fits together easily without any problems with these grills visible through the top grill after fitting this in place plus the two side tow shackles and the large central large leaf mounted tow shackle as well as the infantry telephone box.
Included is a new larger exhaust defector to if required in place of the original deflector and the large armoured fuel tank from the RAAC version is not used on this kit and can be added to the spares box.
The tracks are provided in continuous length vinyl that has quite good details on both sides for this medium track but will not glue together with normal plastic cement so you have to heat weld it or use thick cyanoacrylate.
The separate individual Centurion tracks set #AF35102 are available but only if purchased separately.
The upper hull is not a single part as is usually the case but is broken down into seven segments with the front glacis and the front sections of the fenders with additional etched parts for the fender supports. Next is the upper driver’s panel, the central turret ring panel, the engine hatch grill panel which is actually two parts with the inner section that fits under the outer slats and hinges to give excellent definition to the part with the rearmost engine deck and hinges fitting into this part. Lastly at the back is the full width intake grill and the fit of all these parts is simply superb without any trimming of filler needed, if fact the parts in the assembled hull images are simply tack glued in place with white glue which demonstrates the excellent fit.
Other details on the engine deck included a total of 14 very small grab handles to be added plus the distinctive outer engine deck ribs which are a feature of the Centurion, Chieftain and Challenger engine decks.
At the front , the driver’s two part hatch has separate inner periscopes and outer covers in clear plastic with two small etched parts for added detail as well as the locking latch on the right door with the only clean up being some small pin ejector marks to be removed from the outside strangely.
There is a new glacis (part F8) included for this version but the original plates are still included so make sure you use the correct one for the IDF version. Added to the plate are the spare track rack and storage box fitted on the left side.
The side fenders are separate parts with detail on the underside as well as rib detail on the top with the forward storage boxes made up of four separate parts each with nicely defined side latches and separate small light with wiring and separate fire extinguisher handle on the front box side for excellent detail definition but there are a coupe of small pin marks to be removed also.
The fenders locate easily into large channels along the hull sides for the solid attachment and the small rear fender sections are the normal size for this version.
Included for this kit are the full length skirts moulded in one piece per side which are attached to the large brackets on the hull sides and these include engraved panel lines between the three skirt segments.
Each side exhaust is made up of 9 parts each with new fishtail outlets for this version (parts N2) as well as smaller fittings for the tow cables clips with other details added including the front and rear tow shackles, the barrel travel lock and rear mounted telephone box as mentioned previously.
There is also a selection of pioneer tools to be added to the fenders and these have their attachment clips included with small locating holes in the fenders for easy attachment.
This kit includes twine for the tow cable as opposed to the wire cable in the first kit with plastic end sections that is fitted in the usual locations around the rear hull. Also included for the upper rear hull plate is a resin telephone box as fitted to IDF Cents.
The turret shell is in four parts, the lower turret ring, the left and right sides and the roof all of which have a very nice cast effect on the surface and very crisp details included casting numbers on the left turret wall.
For this version the “standard” Mk.5 mantlet (part I14) is used but this as with the original kit does not have the canvas mantlet cover so noticeable on Centurions which is also shown on the box top illustration and you should be aware this is not included in the kit.
A ready update for this "problem" is available in the form of the Lionmarc set #LM33002 Centurion replacement turret w/cancas Mantlet cover and both the metal barrels from this kit fitting perfectly to the resin turret without any other alterations needed.
The two turret sides fit together easily with a large joining tab under the bustle (part I29) which helps secure the sides together as well as adding additional detail under the bustle and the inner mantlet (part I13) is held in place between the two turret sides by two small poly caps (parts R4) allowing elevation and you obviously have to position these as you fit the turret halves together.
When the metal barrel is attached the weight of this means you will never get the barrel to sit level as the poly caps are not tight enough to hold the barrel weight which means it will be better to glue the mantlet/barrel in place at the desired elevation.
To fit the lower turret ring you will need to slip the large tab at the rear over the rear lower ring sill and the ring then sits recessed inside the turret halves.
The turret roof is a good fit but there is a very small join seam that will have to be eliminated as there is no join on the actual turret and care will be needed not to damage the nice cast effect here.
As mentioned the kit comes with the Type B 20Pdr barrel with two part fume extractor as well as the L7 105mm barrel included in only the first kit production run kits, I am not sure how many kits this entails but picking one up early would be the best option to ensure you get both barrels.
The metal barrels are in one piece with fine rifling in the hollowed out muzzle and for the 20Pdr barrel the fume extractor is in one main piece and a small end cap. The fume extractor is from the RAAC kit with the three ribs along the top and you have to carefully cut away the two side ribs leaving just the centre rib for the IDF barrel. The fume extractor has a central hole just big enough to slip over the muzzle cap as does the end cap but this means the fume extractor is then not a sung fit over the barrel and you must ensure you glue this evenly to the metal barrel. I found it easier to glue the end cap to the fume extractor before adding to the barrel as it's a little tricky adding the end cap later.
The L7 105mm barrel has the fume extractor in two plastic halves that are fitted around the barrel but these required a small amount to be trimmed from each end of the plastic parts for a better fit. Once attached the two halves of the fume extractor joined together quite tightly leaving only a very small seam to be eliminated.
Both barrels fit neatly to the mantlet and you also get the end of the .30cal co-axial machine gun to add to the mantlet hole and I choose to replace this with one of the available metal .30cal barrels for better detail, but only a small section of the barrel is exposed in any case.
with additional image of modified extractor
Completed 20Pdr barrel
L7 105mm Barrel and fume extractor parts
Completed L7 105mm barrel
The distinctive Centurion turret bins are in multiple parts each for good definition but the storage straps on top of the bins are not included and the pistol port on the left side is also a separate part although these is no internal port detail included if you wanted to show this open. Added to the back of the turret are two IDF style jerry can racks and additional spare track racks.
The Commander’s cupola is entirely in clear plastic with the inner periscopes included with a separate upper race and main sights. The separate hatch has nice details inside and out but with three small pin marks to be removed from the inside and there is a separate grab handle added to the outside
The two part Loader’s hatch also has excellent details inside and out with a few unavoidable pin marks to be removed but the detail on these hatches is probable the best of all the hatches.
The main sight in front of the Commander’s cupola has a clear plastic face as well as a separate Loader’s periscope on the forward part of the turret roof also from clear plastic.
Also included are the smoke grenade clusters on each side of the turret and the these have separate mounting brackets, grenade racks and the smoke grenades themselves with just the fine wiring to be added to finish off the detail.
There are other smaller fittings and aerial mounts added to the turret plus a .30cal machine and pintle mount for the Commander’s cupola as often fitted.
Included in this kit is a .50cal Machine Gun mounted in front of the Commander's cupola and this includes etched parts for the cradle and mountings. The .50cal itself is nicely done with separate rear firing handles but as with most plastic .50cal MGs the cooling jacket while having well defined holes lacks the taper of the actual jacket and replacing with one of the available metal .50cal barrels will improve the final look.
The two decal sheets have markings for three IDF Centurions from the siz-day war of 1967 with the markings well printed prividing the licence plates and vehicle ID numbers.
- A. 10th Armor Brigade, Samaria, West Bank Israel 1967
B. 10th Armor Brigade, Samaria, West Bank Israel 1967
C. 10th Armor Brigade, Samaria, West Bank Israel 1967
As with the first two kits this will build into a very respectable model of the early model IDF Sho't Centurion from the 1967 period with the initial kits giving you the bonus L7 105mm gun as well as the initial 20Pdr for you to "choose your weapon". The main issue with this and the previous kits is the lack of canvas mantlet cover with the majority of Centurions having these covers fitted.
We will no dought see other versions of the Cent to follow hopefully including the later IDF modified Centurions that most are hanging out for.
Highly recommended 7.5/10
Note: There may be some confusion over a new set of Hobby Fan resin figures and this kit. There are NO resin figures included in this kit but the set in question, an IDF Tank Commander and Infantryman circa 1967 are in fact a new Hobby Fan set #581 released separately.
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See the Centurion Subjects page for other Centurion related reviews.References:
Ian Allan Ltd.
Universal Tank 1943-2003
Osprey New Vanguard 68
ISBN 9 781841 763873
by Bill Munro.
The Crowood Press Ltd
ISBN 1 86126 701 0 Hardback, 192 pages
Squadron Signal Publications No.2013