Churchill Mk.VI w/Ordnance QF 75mm Mk.V gun
AFV Club 1:35 Kit No. AF 35S52
Review by Terry Ashley
This Mk.VI incorporated some of the design feaures of the Mk.VII that was being designed at the same timeframe as the Mk.VI entered service in 1943. This includes the turret roof layout and hull featurews such as the front periscopes and some storage arrangments.
The kit consists of 417 parts in the usual olive green plastic, 20 clear plastic parts, 66 etched parts, a turned aluminium 75mm barrel, 25 steel springs, a length of thread, a couple of poly caps and the two full lengths of soft vinyl track. Added to this is the decal sheet and 20 page instruction sheet.
Metal and vinyl parts
Full lenght soft vinyl tracks
The standard of plastic moulding is very good overall with clean crisp details although there is a bit of fine flash on some of the smaller parts and those from the initial Churchill kits that have been around for a while now plus the odd shallow pin and sink mark but nothing to get excited over as these are easily cleaned up. Also some of the mating surfaces on the older parts needed smoothing out and checking this as well as test fitting all parts will reduce any issues along the way.
One thing to watch is there are many very small plastic parts and removing these from the sprues will need care as a couple were damaged in my kit due to the sprue attachment especially where there is a chunk of sprue between two small parts. You will need to take care with these as well as working well over you bench as dropping some of these on the floor could result in problems. The etched parts are also well done with fine bending lines to aid in the simple bending where required.
Dimensionally the kit measures up well against available data and the 1:35 plans in the recent GUNPower book and in older issues of Panzer and Tank magazines which have been reproduced in more recent Ground Power issues. The turret dimensions match well to resized ordnance drawings in "Mr.Churchill's Tank" with only some of the smaller items needing attention.
The side panniers are in two parts with the entry hatch opening and surrounding lip detail as well as the openings for the air intakes, you also have to drill out the holes for the large bolt heads if these are to be used. The instructions don’t mention the hole size to drill but you should use a 1.4mm (3/64th inch) drill for these and you also need to watch as the bolts are in different positions on either side of the hull with an extra hole location included on the right side (part C2) that shouldn’t be drilled out, so take care here.
Removing the very small bolt heads from the sprues will require care with the cleanup of the sprue attachment bur but fitting into the drilled holes in easy. AFV Club have also released a set of brass bolt heads (set #AG35020) if you want a little crisper definition on the bolt heads but this is only marginal with the biggest advantage of the brass bolts being no cleanup required.
The suspension on the Churchill is quite a complicated affair and this is replicated on the kit with the fully workable suspension springs looking very much to scale when compared to photos of the real suspension. The suspension itself is made up of about 50 parts per side and will need care and patience during assemble as quite a few parts shouldn’t be glued especially if you want the suspension to articulate after assembly and it also aids during assembly to leave the springs posts in particular unglued.
You firstly slip the metal springs over the suspension posts (parts D5, D6) and then sit the posts into the recesses in one side of the panniers, the springs will help keep these in place while you attach the other pannier half but don’t actually glue the suspension posts in place as leaving these free will aid in lining up the axles with the lower suspension arms later. Don’t worry about the large join seam between the two pannier parts as this will be hidden after assembly in any case.
The outer suspension mountings are in two parts each due to the front section being different on the Mk.III/IV and added between these mountings are 11 cross members, there are actually four different types of cross members numbered D17, D18, D19 and D20 so take careful note of the parts and their location. I actually numbered these with a fine felt pen before removing from the sprues top avoid any confusion, the same goes for the 11 axle mountings which are also different (parts D21, D22, D23).
After attaching the cross members to one side mounting and let dry you then slip the appropriate axle mountings in place and glue the cross members to the other side mounting ensuring you do not glue the actual axle mountings in the process. Adding 2 or 3 axle mountings and gluing as you go is easier as keeping all 11 axle mountings in place while fitting the side mountings is all but impossible.
Once the glue on the axle mounting assembly has dried this is then fitted over the panniers and spring posts and it best to do this initially with the axle mountings facing downwards so gravity will hold these in the down position allowing the posts to ease into place. If you try and fit this the other way the axle mountings get in the way of the posts causing a few hassles.
After fitting the axle mountings over the spring posts you then have to align the axle stubs on the posts and axle mounting and this is where leaving the posts unglued will help as they may be facing the wrong way initially.
You then fit the road wheels in place which secures the axle stubs but strangely the fit of the wheels was so tight on my kit the wheels do not rotate but the suspension springs articulate very nicely as the springs are strong enough to push the wheel back into position after being depressed if you want to articulate the suspension for a diorama or such.
Just a quick note on removing the road wheels from the sprues as care is needed due to the thin edges of the road wheels so make sure you cut well away from the edge when removing the wheels from the sprue and trim later to ensure there is no damage the road wheel edges.
Detail on the road wheels and suspension parts is very well done and matches photos of the real things perfectly and the assembled suspension looks very much to scale even with the full articulation possible.
Detail on the idler wheels and drive sprockets is also very well done and the wheel dimensions also match the plans perfectly, there should be lightening holes included in the front idler wheel inner hubs if you wanted to add these but they are all but hidden from view after assembly in any case. Each wheel is in two halves with very crisp detail not requiring any additional cleanup other than the sprue attachment burs on a couple of the teeth and there is a vinyl poly cap trapped between the two drive sprocket halves for easy fitting to the drive axle. The final drive housing is also a separate part that is attached to the hull side plate with the idlers having two mounting panels attached to the front of the side panniers.
When attaching the assembled side panniers/suspension to the hull sides (parts A1. A3) you should temporarily fit the upper hull plate (part B25) between the two hull side as you glue them to get the spacing correct to ensure a good fit of the top deck later. This is important as gluing the hull sides into place without checking the fit of the top deck can result in rather large gaps between the hull sides and deck when you come to fit the deck later, so save yourself some grief and check this now.
Gluing the assembled suspensions to the lower and rear hull plates is very straightforward as the fit is very good if a little fiddly to get lined but once in place the fit is good. The rear hull extensions that fit over the drive sprockets are also nicely detailed and fit precisely onto place but you should note there are attachment brackets for the later fender bracings (parts E10) and if these are not fitted you have to cut off the mounting brackets from the hull extensions (parts C5, C11) as the instructions omit to mention this.
Also there are the elaborate mud scrappers that are trapped between the hull and outer panels as these are fitted and you shouldn’t glue these as they are designed to move a little, just watch that you fit the scrappers the right way up as it’s easy for these to be added upside down.
Other details added to the hull sides are the alternate separate crew entry doors, that have additional inner face detail if you wanted to show these open but as there is no internal detail its better to leave these closed, there is also fine rain channels to add above the doors. There are the large mud slides added to the front which have nice detail and fit easily into place although you have to line these up by eye with the top of the front armour, not a big problem.
The large side armoured air intake trunks mounted on the hull sides are the correct style for the Mk.IV with the smooth front panel and made up of 5 parts each with the top mesh screen that has moulded mesh detail plus a choice of sheet metal covers.
There is the standard curved cover as seen on numerous Churchill’s as well as an angled cover in etched brass as an option. It should be noted that many action shots show the covers missing altogether with the top mesh exposed which gives a third option for displaying the trunks.
Assembly of the trunks was straightforward and the fit to the hull sides very precise with the trunks in the accompanying images just sat in place not actually glued such is the good fit and at the back is the smoke generators made up of three parts each (1 etched) and the air deflectors along with the tow shackle and mounting plate with the fit of these parts not causing any problems.
The upper air intake grills are also separate parts but there is quite a bit of cleanup needed on these before attaching with the fit off all the real panels being very good not requiring any trimming other than some very fine flash on a couple of mating surfaces that would probably be dissolved by the glue in any case as its really very minor.
The kit periscopes are the same as the previous Mk.III/IV kits and for this kit you should use the Churchill Mk.VII style periscopes (parts P13) as indicated in the instructions.
The crew hatches are correctly offset with outer hatch frames and the separate hatches have inner padding without any pin marks to contend with as well as very small separate etched inner fittings and plastic latch handle and separate outer grab handle for good definition. The fit of the frames and hatches is very good not requiring any trimming at all and you can again leave the hatches open if you wish to include any of the resin crew figures available separately.
Moving to the glacis this has very fine details including with the bullet splash guards being especially finely done and this plate has to added before the lower front plate as you have to slide the glacis into the slots on the insides of the inner idler mounting plates but the fit is very snug once in place. Added to the glacis are the two part head lights but you may want to leave these off until later to avoid damage at this stage?
Fitting the lower front plate was snug but you should test fit as a little trimming of the inner raised blocks on the inner idler sponson mountings (parts A19, A20) may be needed for the front plate to sit flush with the glacis, as noted this may depend on the placement of the hull/side sponson parts during the earlier assembly so check the fit before gluing. Added to the front plate is the central tow shackle and mounting bracket that fits without any problems.
The driver’s plate has a separate main vision port hatch with the smaller bolted vision flap also separate so you can show either the full hatch or just to port open as was often the case, there are additional smaller plastic and etched parts added to the hatch as well as the visor on the inside.
On the left is the co-axial BESA MG in full with an etched part for the jacket although the barrel will need to be drilled out for a better appearance. The BESA then fits into the armoured cradle that is held in place by two securing brackets that allow both elevation and traverse. The BESA is quite nice but the flash suppressor is undersized and not drilled out and could be improved with the use of an aftermarket item such as the brass barrel from Lionmarc/Passions Models or the full resin BESA MG with metal barrel from, SKP Model (set #SKP 022) this includes the barrel support in resin as well as the receiver.
Added to the panel is the outer armour block around the co-axial MG with the fit of the driver’s panel being very good but you should fit the main driver’s panel in place before adding the additional armour block as this partly sits on top of the glacis.
Added each side of the glacis are the inner fender plates that also hold the wooden jack blocks and the plates are different for left and right so watch this when fitting with the fit of the main top deck is very good between the driver’s plate, the side panels and the rear engine deck plate proving you checked the side plates as mentioned earlier.
The rear engine deck hatches also have separate fine plastic grab handles and fit snugly to the deck cut-outs and being separate will allow the easy inclusion of engine detail should an aftermarket interior become available?
Added on the deck are the two exhaust pipes made up of six parts including the sheet metal covers which are moulded quite thin for a good appearance with these all fitting neatly in place without any problems.
There is also an additional engine deck plate at the back of the main deck and this again has separate fine grab handles and fits snugly in place without any trimming needed. The pioneer tools supplied have their brackets moulded with the tools and you need to drill out the tool locating holes in the deck. Replacing these brackets with etched items from any of the etched sets already released for the previous Mk.III/IV kits will improve the look.
The final parts for the hull are the fenders which are provided in six main segments plus the side fender plates at front and back as well as the rubber (in plastic) mud flaps added to the front fenders, there are also alternate parts at the back depending if you are building the later or earlier style fenders.
Providing these fender segments as separate parts is a great bonus not only for easier fitting but to allow you to build the model with any number of fender segments missing as is often seen in photos of battle weary Churchill’s. Period photos of the Churchill of all types also show the front curved section of fender over the idler wheels rarely if ever fitted and leaving these off would be the preferred option.
Again test fitting of the fender sections is essential and I actually glued the sections together to form one long fender before final fitting to the model as this will assist in aligning the fenders correctly, obviously these were test fitted numerous times during assembly to get things right but the end result is easy final fitting.
Added to the rear fender segments are the storage racks for four water cans and these have additional etched brackets for a nice appearance.
Before fitting the fenders you have to add the full length vinyl track which have quite good details for the medium but there are some pour plug marks on some links that are difficult to remove and joining the tracks together is an interesting exercise as there are no actual pins to join the ends and normal plastic cement has no effect. I tried using a medium thickness cyanoacrylate but this came apart while stretching the track around the idler and drive sprocket and ended up heat welding the two ends together. This resulted in a bit of link distortion due to the lack of join pins but this can be easily hidden under the fenders or at ground contact with the tracks fitting very nicely around the idler, drive sprocket and the road wheels with a slight track stretch to make for a snug fit.
The moulding seams on the turret sides are quite fine but may still need the cast texture redone using Mr.Surfacer or similar after removing the seams. As well as the correctly shaped mantlet aperture there is also separate periscopes and ventilator, pistol ports, crew hatches and open 2" bomb thrower port. The join seam between the upper and lower turret parts coincides with the actual casting seam on the real turret so this shouldn't be eliminated and could even enhanced to show the cast texture better although the join at the front was not as precise as around the sides and rear and may need a little blending in for a better appearance.
Dimensionally the turret matches the available data very well give or take a fraction here and there and is well within acceptable tolerances as does the turret shape, the only quibble is the corners and top edges appear a little sharp but this may just be a visual thing on the scale sized turret?
There is one issue with the turret as with the previous 95mm turret, the lower cast in protective ring extends all the way around the turret base but it should not be on the right side under where the add on bracket (part Q4) is located and cutting the ring away here will give the correct appearance and good references of this area would help if you decide to make this alteration?
The Ordnance QF 75mm gun barrel is provided in turned aluminium but there is no internal gun included, the three part muzzle brake that is very well done for a plastic item with the muzzle brake cone being moulded in one piece with correctly sized gas holes and just the end cap and barrel collar as separate parts. This leaves just a very fine mould line on the muzzle brake to remove before fitting to the barrel. note it also includes the retaining bolt that should be positioned on the underside of the muzzle brake when attached to the barrel, also do not attach the muzzle brake until after the add on turret armour if you are going to use this?
The full coaxial BESA MG is the same as for the hull MG and while quite nice could benefit from being replaced with a metal barrel for a better appearance. Note, you should not attach the small end plate on the co-ax cradle until after fitting the additional armour if using this as the armour plate will not fit if the end plate is attached to the cradle. This is not indicated in the instructions unfortunately and will only discover this when trying to fit the armour plate later in assembly.
For the single periscope the instructions show to use the correct periscope parts E33 and E34 along with the clear parts H1 and H2 but again the inner part of the periscope is not visible after assembly so not fitting this will save a bit of work.
The Mk.VI used the flat profile Commander’s hatch ring as indicated in the instructions and this as well as the Loader's hatch included additional reinforcing strips that are included as etched parts in the kit. The hatch ring is nicely done with separate hatches that have inside padding without any pin marks as are the Loader’s hatches along with additional smaller inside latches that will need care removing from the sprues and in fitting. There are small securing latches added next to both the Commander’s and Loader’s hatches which have quite large sprue attachments for their size.
The etched reinforcing strips have recesses to fit over the hatch hinges and the strips on the Commander's hatch fit fine but unfortunately the recesses on the Loader's hatch are too small and don't fit over the hinges properly leaving the strips not mating with the hatch surface. The only solution is to file these recesses larger using a small needle file, this is not that easy due to the small size of the strips, you could also remake the strips from thin plastic sheet to get the recesses positioned correctly.
The cupola vision ports have separate covers but the edges are very thin and due to the sprue attachment being right on the edge these are easily damaged and care will be needed removing these from the sprues.
The etched vane sight in thin brass (part G21) is the correct later type and is carefully bent to shape and added to the mounting in front of the Commander’s station without any problems.
The circular No.19 Radio antenna base provided (loacted centrally on the Mk.VI turret) is very well done for an injected plastic base but unfortunately is oversized somewhat and there is little you can do other than replace this with an aftermarket antenna base of the right size if this is of concern such as that from Lionmarc Designs (set #LM60009) which also adds additional detail over the kit base.
The two pistol ports have separate outer frames with separate ports with nice cast texture included as well as etched brass inner brackets should you wish to show the ports in the open position for a different appearance? Added to the turret side are 12 very small etched tie-down cleats which will need care removing from the fret as well as fitting to the small raised lugs on the turret side.
At the back is the three part turret box that goes together well and attaches to the four raised bosses on the rear turret wall, take note as the original box is still included on the sprues so make sure you use the correct parts as indicated in the instructions. The turret ring is designed to clip into the hull top turret ring without the usual notch cut-outs used on many kits. This makes for the cleaner appearance but it’s not easy to remove the turret after fitting so you may want to leave this off until towards final assembly.
Other items added to the turret are the two fire extinguishers either side of the rear box and the signal flag container which is nicely textured plus the two rod antenna made from stretched sprue.
As with the previous kits the suspension is superbly done if a little complicated with the metal springs provided look very much in scale adding to the final appearance as well as other details very well done with good overall parts fit. Care is needed with the position of the hull side panels for the hull top fit as outlined above as this has potential to cause problems for the unwary.
The kit is not for the inexperience modeller due to some intricate assemblies and small parts but overall will build into a good representation of the Mk.VI with the nicely done metal 75mm barrel and muzzle brake as a nice bonus.
|Mr. Churchill's Tank
The British Infantry Tank Mk.IV
Schiffer Military Publications
Tank Power Vol.LXXVI
Wydawnictwo Militaria No.315
|Infantry Tank Churchill
Ground Power Magazine
#203 - 4/2011
GALILEO Publishing Co.,Ltd.
|The Churchill Tank
A Visual History of of the British Army's Heavy Infantry Tank 1941-1945
|Churchill Infantry Tank 1941-51
New Vanguard No.4
ISBN 1 85532 297 8
|Tamiya Photographic Album No.3
British Churchill Tank
Tamiya Plastic Model Co.