British Heavy Tank Conqueror Mark 2
Dragon 1:35 Scale Smart Kit #3555
Review b
y Chris Meddings
Dragon have released in their Black Label series this kit of the British Conqueror Mk.II Heavy Tank which was developed along with the U.S. M103 heavy tank to counter the Soviet Stalin IS-3 heavy tanks mounting a 120mm gun. 20 Mk.I and 165 Mk.II Conquerors mounting the same 120mm gun as used in the M103 were built between 1955 and 1966 with all serving in West Germany.

All 1:1 measurements in this review were taken by me from a real MkII Conqueror. None of the measurements come from scale plans.

I have examined every detail on the kit and offered criticism of all details no matter how small that criticism may be. This is in order to ensure you, the reader, are fully armed to make up your own mind on the quality of the kit. For some people all issues will be a problem, for others some problems will be possible to ignore or will not really represent an issue. For some no problem will be an issue if it looks roughly like what it’s supposed to be. To my mind that is for the reader to decide.

The kit:
Quickly covering the basics of what you get: Usual stout cardboard box with great Ron Volstad artwork.

Inside we find DS Track, eight sprues of their standard light grey plastic, one clear parts sprue, separate upper hull (with main fenders moulded attached), separate hull tub, piece of metal cable (nice touch) and decals for two vehicles for a total of;

359 parts in light grey plastic
7 parts in clear plastic
4 DS track runs
1 DS mantlet cover
1 length of metal twist cable
2 small decal sheets
1 foldout instruction sheet

I wouldn’t normally talk about the instructions, I mean everyone does exploded diagram so what’s the point in pointing that out? But I will say I found these surprisingly short. Which could be indicative of the build.

The standard of moulding is very well done overall with clean crisp details mostly with virtually no flash or pin marks to contend with, there are the usual excess plastic nodes to be removed from most parts along with the sprue attachment burr and the usual moulding lines, but nothing out of the ordinary here.

metal cable and clear parts
Vinyl part

The Turret:
I’ll start by looking at the turret and its details.

The real turret I measured to W 2700mm, L 3790mm (length being measured from the rear of the main turret casting to the rear of the mantlet.
In 1:35 that’s W 77.2mm, L 100.83mm
The DML Turret measures out to W 76, L 100mm.

So undersized by 1.2mm in width and 0.83mm in length. To my mind this is within a margin of reasonable error and may be due to differences in a turret casting if the same example was not the same for the kit research and my own.

Moving on to the bolted plate over the gun breach. It has the correct number of six sided bolts which sit at a realistic height from the plate. They measure out well against 1:1 ones I measured at 40mm/1.12mm. The curved corners of the plate itself also measure out well with a realistic curve.

The length of the real plate is 1450mm and the width is 900mm
That scales to 41.4mm x 25.7mm. The kit measures to 4.14mm x 25.6mm

Moving onto the ventilator cover on the plate: the casting letters on it are superb, so small as to be almost unreadable but crisply moulded nonetheless. However the shape of it is a little off. The front edge is squared off in a vertical edge which should have a very prominent weld and a sharp edge on the cover above the weld. Most noticeable it is missing the holes at the rear that actually facilitate ventilation. The basic dimensions of the ventilator are correct as its location measuring front to rear and left to right on the plate.

Looking at the basic turret form, there appears to be some issues. The curve of the left side cheek is about 3 to 4mm too far forward at the top. In addition, there should be a gentle curve outside the line of the bolted plate along the top of the casting. The kit version joins the curve of the upper edge of the cheek to a straight upper casting edge outside the bolt plate at an incorrect sharp right angle. See the pictures for a clearer idea.

The bump in the turret casting just behind the loader’s hatch on the left side looks about right, but moving around to the back, the chamfer on the upper edge of the turret rear is not right at all. DML depict it as starting behind the bump on the left side and ending at the shell port on the right side. They depict it as deeper in the centre and tapering towards the ends of the chamfer.

However on the real turret it is a consistent depth throughout its length and never extends as far as DML have it at its widest point. It begins at the same point on the real turret but terminates much further forward right behind the conduit for the smoke launcher cable, in almost a shallow gutter.

There are very large and prominent casting marks missing from the rear of the turret.

Under the cable for the smoke launcher on the right side, the curve of the edge in the casting that transitions from bustle to turret ring looks off too. It curves in on the horizontal plane too far towards the centre of the turret and the edge itself is too flat, and should be more convex and noticeable.

The edge of the turret roof by the gunner’s hatch also has some shape issues. The kit depicts the curve of the roof’s edge behind the gunner’s scope and forward of the hatch itself as a very shallow continuation of the line from the aerial mount on. In fact from the corner of the hatch forward it should be a shallow S curve, coming in from the widest point then slightly flaring out again to the periscope. Also the face of the casting behind the scope should terminate in a shallow slope, but is much higher and more rounded on the kit.

Turret contours

There should be a shallow rain gutter by the gunner’s hatch, but this can be easily added with a diamond file and a minute or so effort.

The hatch stop and lock for the gunner’s hatch is absent. It should be just behind the pivot of the hatch in front of the aerial mount.

The main bulge of the turret roof casting between the gunner’s and loader’s hatches is not bad, the corners at the rear end of the bulge extend a bit too far and are a little squared when they should be more rounded.

However, the bulge should extend a bit more at the front. Around the bolted plate it should raise up more to give a slight gutter around the edge of the access hole that plate covers. This is completely absent in the kit turret.

The hatches themselves measure:
Real Gunner’s hatch: 600mm x 510mm / 17.14mm x 14.57mm
DML Gunner’s hatch: 18.5mm x 14mm

Real Loader’s Hatch: 600mm (from pivot to opposite edge) x 605mm / 17.14mm x 17.8
DML Loader’s Hatch: 18mm x 19mm

You can obviously decide for yourself if these are big enough discrepancies to merit adjustment, but for me, although they are only 1 to 1.5mm here and there, on something under 20mm it’s a reasonably noticeable discrepancy to my mind, especially when you consider the effect it may have on other features such as the thin roof edge between the gunner’s hatch and turret side.

Again, the hatch locking latch is missing on the Loader’s hatch surround.
The commander’s cupola is an area that deserves a good long look on its own. It’s a complex thing with lots for us to look at.

The basic dimensions of the real one are: L 1210mm, W (without the commander’s rangefinder protrusions) 1260mm, H (not including hatch, periscopes etc) 370mm
in 1:35 that’s L 34.57mm, W 36mm, H 105mm
DML: L 35mm, W 34.5mm, H 10mm

The casting numbers on the one I photographed differ in many areas but the basic form is the same and it’s likely this comes from different contracts and foundries.

The measurements I have for the commander’s hatch are 450mm x 560mm.
This scales out to 12.85mm x 16mm
The DML hatch measures 10mm x 16mm

Like the other hatches, the commander’s hatch has basic reverse detail.

The coincidence sights are a little simplified, but not overly so. Most noticeable is the omission of casting numbers. The periscope guard for the commander’s vision devices is generally quite good but a little under-scale. Not noticeably so unless you measure and compare. The commander’s spotlight is omitted.

 The .30 cal is, I’m sorry to say, very poor indeed. It looks more like something from an early nineties kit and is nowhere near the common modern standard of Bronco, AFV Club, Tasca/Asuka or even later Dragon releases. I will certainly be replacing mine. The MG mount too is really reminiscent of Italeri in the early nineties, not what we have come to expect from DML at all and far below their usual standard.

Kit .30cal with original barrel and replacement metal barrel added

The lifting eyes on the cupola are missing in the instructions. Looking at the sprues and discounting eyes needed elsewhere in the kit the parts appear to be C8. All that it looks like these need is their holes drilling out a little.

The smoke launcher brackets and the cable reel are both a bit clunky, with thick mouldings but appear basically correct. Like the periscope guards and covers, these look like they could be better done in PE.

The seams for the turret lifting eyes are there but with zero texture. This can probably be cured with a little poly cement and a tool to create a bead.

The two halves of the turret shell are, it must be said: superbly engineered for fit. They go together like hand in glove and only minimal filling will be required to completely eliminate the seam.

The turret basket is accurate and well thought out for assembly but I’m sorry to say it is far too thick for scale. Some will no doubt be fine with it but I would recommend that if you have any scratch building experience then you use the kit part as a template and build your own from thinner rod and strip.

One area where DML missed it entirely is that the cupola is designed in the kit to just be fixed in position with a single locating notch and is unable to rotate like the real cupola, the modifications to allow the cupola to rotate are quite simple, click on the expanding panel below for a how-to on making the cupola rotate.

To allow the cupola to rotate is just a couple of simple steps and the average modeller should be able to do these without any problems, all you need is a some plastic card strip and a sharp #11 blade. As mentioned the cupola is designed in the kit to just be fixed in position with a single locating notch and is unable to rotate like the real cupola (image 1)

Firstly cut two recesses out from the cupola lip on the turret upper shell, these are best located diagonally as indicated in the image (2) and the width of whatever plastic card strip you will be using to make the attachment tabs. Note, also slightly bevel the ends of the cut-outs, this will make it easier for the added tabs to slip into place and not get caught on the edges of the cut-outs.(image 2)

Next make two locating tabs from this plastic card strip and glue these to the underside lip of the cupola, but first you must cut away the locating notch included on the cupola sill. I reinforced the small tabs with extra plastic card square strip on the underside of the tab against the cupola wall for added strength. (image 3).Just make sure the locating tabs are aligned with recesses you cut previously so there are no problems fitting the cupola into place.

When the glue is completely dry you can then slip the locating tabs through the recess and turn to secure in place just like it is designed to do and any kit tank turret. (image 4)


Additional notes by Terry Ashley

The Mantlet and Gun:
The real Mantlet measures 1000mm wide by 50 mm long.

In 1:35 that’s 28.57mm x 14.28mm
DML’s Mantlet measures: 25mm x 11mm

As with the hatches, you will decide for yourself if this is an issue, but I think 10% and 18% under-scale respectively is an issue.

The gun has more serious dimensional problems.
The distance between mantlet and bore evacuator on two tanks I measured was 2490mm
In 1:35 that’s 71.14mm
On the DML kit the distance is 65mm. That’s a 6.14mm difference or 214mm/21.4cm.

The circumference at the base of the barrel, where it meets the mantlet, on the real tank is 1000mm.
28.57mm in 1:35 DML’s is 31.4mm

The circumference of the barrel before and after the evacuator is 640mm and 620mm respectively
in 1:35: 18.28 and 17.71mm DML has 19.48 and 16.34mm

The circumference of the evacuator on the real tank is 1080mm/ 30.85mm in 1:35 DML has 26.7mm

The evacuator is 600mm long at 1:1/ 17.14mm in 1:35 DML Has 22mm

The distance from evacuator to counterweight is 1955mm/ 55.85mm in 1:35 DML’s measures 63mm

The gun is provided split in two parts. If you can overlook the dimensional issues they should not be difficult to put together and eliminate the seam due to the gun’s simple design.

The Hull:
Basic Hull Dimensions

The basic dimensions of the Conqueror Hull at 1:1 are: L 768.5cm x width 391.2cm
(length is fender tip to fender tip including the end flaps, Width is fender edge to fender edge)
at 1:35 this scales to 219.6mm x 111.8mm

The kit measures to 219.5mm x 111.3mm. To my mind this is pretty much bang on (allowing for a reasonable margin of error in my measurement of the real one, and manufacturing tolerances for injection moulding)

The width of the hull between the Fenders at 1;1 was 212cm
At 1:35 that’s 60.6mm
DMLs measures 61mm

The fender section lengths are next. These vary so I’ll do them in order; front to rear. In these measurements I am not including the front and rear flaps. See the fender picture

The front section is 214.5cm at 1:1 and at 1:35: 61.3mm. DML gives us: 58mm
The next section is 182.5cm at 1:1 and at 1:35: 52.1mm. DML: 52.1mm
The 3rd section is 121cm at 1:1, 34.6cm at 1:35 and DML gives us: 35.3mm
The last and rearmost section is 168.5cm at 1:1, 48.2cm at 1:35, DML gives us: 53.6mm

These discrepancies are exacerbated by the fact the bazooka plates are the same lengths, which makes the front section and bazooka plate out by 3.3mm/ 115.5mm at 1:1, and the rearmost section out by 5.4mm/ 189mm at 1:1.

Going beyond measurements and looking at details; the supporting ribs on the fenders are unsurprisingly over-scale. Unsurprisingly because really, unless you are going to provide them in etch, the injection process will give you parts like this thicker than the real ones. The DML ones are the right shape, and 1mm in width. The real ones are considerably thinner and for true fidelity I’d replace them with thin card stock or PE parts if these become available.

The Fender parts themselves are very thick indeed on the kit, at 1.7mm which is 59.5mm at 1:1. Essentially they’ve done their 1990s trick of taking the depth of the side edge of the fender, where this is a lip on the fender, and made the whole thing that depth. If you fit the Bazooka plates this won’t matter on the sides but if you look at the ends of the fenders it becomes painfully obvious. At the front of the fenders we have a moulded on wire for the sidelights that I think is well enough done to leave as it is.

The front fender sections on the real one are attached with some pretty big hinges. The hinge is welded to the flap itself and bolted to the fender. The bolts are present on the DML kit, but seem a little too large to me at 0.5mm in height / 17.5mm at 1:1. To me this seems far too high and you might want to sand them down a little. All the rivets on the fenders suffer the same exaggeration.

The ‘tabs’ on the hinge are 7.5cm x 9.5cm at 1:1, which scales to 2.1mm x 2.7mm. DML gives us 1mm x 2.5mm. The weld beads on the tabs on the flap are missing in the kit.

Kit fenders with outline of dimensions

Forward Upper Deck:
On the upper hull we find a really very serious error, and one that will not be so easy to fix. On the real tank the hull deck in front of the turret ring is in two parts; the first slopes downward from the ring to the height of the armour at the front edge of the deck and the second part is a flat plate. (see deck image). It appears they have copied this from the Mk1 and not realised it was changed on the Mk2

DML has it as one single flat plate at an angle. This is a big issue because firstly of course it’s very noticeable but secondly because it skews the driver’s hatch, which should be parallel with the floor, not at an angle at all.

It also causes a real problem with the bulge of the turret ring that projects onto the forward deck.

Front hull outine as above

The splash guard to the left of the driver’s hatch is very overscale. This should be rather thin but instead is 1mm thick on the kit. For scale effect I would recommend slicing this off and replacing it with a strip of 0.3mm card. The splash guard on the right of the hatch is missing completely and will need to be added.

The locking latch for the driver’s hatch is over scale and oversimplified.

The hatch itself is grossly simplified. It should be a heavy cast with a bevelled upper edge. DML have represented the bevel as a step. You will need to fill this and put the correct slope on it. The real hatch has four prominent casting marks. All are missing.

The shape of the hatch is also incorrect. (see hatch image) It should have a flattened face to the curve at the front. This is absent in the kit item. Also it should have a large hex nut in the corner for the pivot. This too is missing.

Hatch outline

Finally, the hatch has two locks. These are represented on the kit as raised ‘pips’ either side of the turret. These are OK enough but to accommodate them, for some reason, DML have put holes in the tabs on either side of the hatch. The best solution is to slice the tops off the ‘pips’ and fill the holes in the tabs.

Moving on to the Glacis, there is a prominent weld bead missing from the front edge, and the built-up welds for the lighting eyes have been represented as slope sided boxes with no weld texture.

The conduit on the glacis that covers the wiring for the lights is missing the lip that secures it to the armour. (see Glacis image) This can be added with some thin styrene strip. Unsurprisingly the light guards are over scale. In reality these are thin steel strip welded together and it’s no surprise they could not be produce in scale thickness in IM styrene. But I can’t help but feel DML could have got a lot closer with their much-vaunted technological ability. Again these might be best replaced in styrene strip or with an etch set of one becomes available.

Glacis details

The mounting brackets for the lights are an inverted, flattened ‘U’ shape. DML obviously did not want to show these brackets as solid, so what they did was to put a hole under them that goes all the way through the glacis. So we have a hole we don’t want and still the brackets are too thick!

The best solution will be to fill the big square holes and make new thinner brackets of your own.

Engine Deck:
The first thing you will notice on the engine deck is that the Petrol filler cap is nowhere to be found. It should be on the right forward deck panel, between the sets of louvres. (green outline in the deck image)

The next thing I picked up on was the access panel at the rear end of the same engine deck panel (B in the deck image). I the kit the hinge is depicted as transverse. It should be longitudinal. Frankly I don’t know how they could have got this wring. The way it is depicted in the kit it couldn’t open. The raised sides of the deck panel would stop it.

Engine deck details

There should be 14 slats in the louver in front of that access panel. The kit has it as 5. At the front edge of this engine panel the louvre (A) should have 18 slats. The kit has nine.

One the engine access panel inboard of the one discussed above, we find the water filer cap (C). This is present, but not correct. The hinge is convex when it should be concave, and the hinge itself lacks any definition or detail. On the plus side it’s the right shape, faces the right way, and is in the right place.

On the real tank, the two engine access hatches already mentioned both have shortened louvres to accommodate the access panel and filler cap. The rest however all have louvres (D) of the same size with the same number of slats: 27. The kit depicts 12.

Again on the left side engine access hatch, the Petrol filler cap (for the port tanks) is missing. This conqueror would not have got very far. The louvres on the rear row of engine access panels should have 42 slats. The kit gives 17.

And lastly on the engine deck; there are 14 handles for lifting the 14 panels. Every one of them is moulded solid. This is despite the fact separate handles are given in the kit (Parts C41) for the bazooka plates.

The shovel is a horrible shape. Far too wide at the wide end, and is missing the ferrule that attaches it to the haft. The bracket that secures the shovel blade to the fender is very clunky indeed. In reality this would be made from thin sheet metal. The part is around 1.2mm thick; at 1:1 that’s 42mm thick! This part would have been best reproduced in etch, but even allowing for the fact they may have wanted to keep costs down but not giving us etch parts all over, I’m certain they could have moulded this thinner in styrene if they wanted to. Certainly Bronco, AFV Club and even Hobby Boss are moulding items significantly smaller than this now and this is really not up to 21st century standards. The bracket for the shovel handle is equally poor and over-scale sadly.

Strangely the other OVM is actually not bad at all. The clamps are moulded on, but then nearly everybody does as a matter of course and the detail on the clamps is quite nice and I think would be good enough for the majority of modellers.

Moving on to the fender stowage boxes, these are basically OK. They have great latches, really nicely detailed and crisp, but they also suffer from a few problems. The hinges should be flat and but up to the raised area of the lids, in the kit they have been moved outboard and now one side of the hinge is too high (see hinge image). Also the row of rivets around the top side edge and rear upper edge are oversized by some margin.

Hinge details

Metal tow cable is very welcome in the kit, especially after the absence of any tow cables at all in the Saladin Black Label kit. The tow cable ends are mildly disappointing with the usual slot ends. Given the size of the eyes I would have liked to see their ferrules hollow using DML’s much-vaunted use of slide moulding. But early everyone goes with a slot, so it’s not fair to criticise them too much for using the standard solution. Some quick CA and filler work can close them up.

The tow cable brackets are more disappointing. The front locking sections rely on a piece missing from the cable ends to work which is not ideal, especially as the parts are quite large so very visible. The locking latches themselves are very heavily rendered. Not like the thin metal used on the real thing. To be honest they are so overly thick and clunky, they remind me of nothing so much as the old Max Peerless kits. These will need to be replaced. Etch could work well if a part if a set is released. Not quite so bad, but still wrong, are the other supports that lift the cable above the fenders. These are solid in the kit when they should be hollow frames. Again I understand that DML may have wanted to keep costs down, and appeal to modellers that don’t like etch by doing these parts in PE, but they haven’t even tried to make them look like they are frames; they give us solid blocks only.

cable bracket details

Looking now at the exhausts. The armoured joint covers where they enter the hull are a good shape and reasonably well done. They are missing casting numbers but do have a subtle cast texture. On the pipes themselves, slide moulding has been used to give us a very good fishtail indeed, very nicely rendered. The exhaust shrouds are too thick, but not to the same extent as the cable brackets and will probably look ok with some judicious thinning of the edges. The only real problems are the lack of notches cut in their bottom edges to fit onto the fender support arms, and the angle at the back where it slopes down is a bit too steep.

The fender sides and Bazooka plates are OK. The detail is acceptable certainly, but the measurements are off in exactly the same way as the fenders as they actually match the fender lengths.

The final things to look at then are the track and running gear.
The diameter of the 1:1 return roller is 28cm, 8mm in 1:35. DMLs are spot on at 8mm.
The diameter of the 1:1 road wheel is 49cm, 14mm in 1:35. DMLs are 15mm, so just over 7% too wide
The depth of the road wheel rim is 5cm at 1:1, 1.43mm at 1:35. DMLs are .8mm
the depth of the paired road wheels from rim out to rim outer is 19.5cm at 1:1, and 5.57mm at 1:35. DMLs are 5mm
The diameter of the 1:1 idler is 80cm, 22.9mm at 1:35. DMLs is 22.5
The diameter of the Sprocket NOT including teeth is 82cm, 23.4mm at 1:35. DML gives us 22.5mm
The diameter of the sprocket hub is 39.4cm, 112.mm at 1:35. DML gives is 11.mm

However, DML have done something strange with the hub with the bulges round its rim, and the nut offset irregularly. They should be offset so that any one is spaced in the middle of any two of the others. See the sprocket photos. The grease nipples have been omitted.

The suspension bogeys aren’t too bad, brownie points to DML for resisting splitting the bump stops in two. Inside they are attached to one side of the bogey halves with no seam to clean up.

Finally then the track links. The overall width of the link is 79cm, 22.6mm in 1:35. DMLs are 22m
The depth of the link is 20.8cm, 5.94mm in 1:35. DMLs are 6.5mm.
The pitch of the track teeth is 39cm, 11.14mm in 1:35. DMLs track accommodates a sprocket pitch of 11.4. Within tolerance for fitting the track to the sprocket.
The spud should be 59cm x 4.5cm, 16.8 x 1.3mm in 1:35. DMLs is 16mm x 2mm.
Overall, at its thickest point the link should be 14cm, 4mm. DMLs is 2.2. The problem is the spud, which is far too flat.
The height of the track teeth should be 9cm, 2.6mm. DMLs are 2.3mm. They should be 8cm wide at their base, 2.3mm. DMLs are 2.6mm.

The two small decal sheets included in the kit provide markings for two vehicles both in overall British Bronze green although it doesn't display a lot of research with one just marked as BAOR only and not identification for the markings provided.
Option A. 7th Armoured Brigade BAOR 1960s
Option B. BAOR 1967
You will have to decide for yourself if its’s worth building as is, whether it can be used as a starting point and corrected, or whether it’s not really worth it. How you assess it will depend on your own priorities and criteria, but for me, it’s just about worth it with a LOT of work to make it right. Someone will no doubt release a PE set soon, I might even do an ITA one, which will correct many of the smaller issues but the hull roof discrepancies will require a different solution. So ultimately for me… a missed opportunity to do this so long waited for subject well instead of just adequately, and given its short falls, an expensive kit, but not wholly without merit in some areas.

Special thanks to Paul Kestenbaum and Chris ‘Toadman’ Hughes for providing additional photos for the review

The kit was bought with my own hard-earned, it is not a review kit or manufacturer provided sample

The Sprues:
Sprue images
Click on thumbnails for larger view

Sprue detail images
Dragon DragonDragonDragonDragonDragon


Real Museum Conqueror Mk.II Heavy Tanks for images and measurements.

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Page created July 20, 2015

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