Initial sales were via E-bay but they are now becoming more widely available through the Lionmarc website and shortly via shops in Japan.
This conversion set as mentioned is based of the Tamiya Churchill kits (#35100, 35210) and comes very well packaged in a stout cardboard box with the parts neatly arranged with Styrofoam blocks to reduce any damage or warping of the larger parts with the smaller parts in numerous small plastic zip lock bags with just a few parts in each to further reduce damage that can occur when you have a lot of parts in one bag.
The set consists of 15 parts in clear Perspex, 6 in black Perspex with a further 32 in grey resin plus numerous small (or large) rivet heads for around the hull.
All the Perspex parts are laser cut to precise tolerances and are designed to be used as templates for adding the many small bolt heads to the hull sides and also in cutting out the square escape hatches and exhaust cut-outs in the hull sides with the black Perspex parts used to fill in the hull gaps if the fenders are left off the final kit.
Standard of resin casting is excellent with all the parts already having their
casting blocks removed before shipping, this must be quite time consuming but
will be welcomed by the buyer as the resin used is very hard making removal
of the block without the aid of a power tool very difficult and IMA are to
be commended for this cleanup.
The details on the castings are very crisp and clean overall although there is some minor ‘dimpling’ in the engraved panel lines on the side escape hatches and driver’s visor door but this shouldn’t be noticeable once fully painted and weathered. One other thing to watch is due to the hard resin used it is also quite brittle and if you do need to trim or drill make sure no undue pressure is applied as the parts can break quite easily, especially the smaller parts.
For the hull sides you have the choice of using the Perspex templates to remodel the Tamiya side plates or use the new resin items which will negate the need to add all those bolt heads on the rear section.
The front and rear hull sections are completely replaced with resin parts and some modifications to the Tamiya parts is required but nothing that is too difficult especially for anyone buying this conversion in the first place.
The upper hull has some minor modifications such as the front periscopes and the fenders if you wish to leave all or part of these off the model. The inner side Tamiya parts (C19, C20) also require reshaping at the front for the new fender contours but this again shouldn’t be much of a problem and parts C17 and C20 require some detail removed and additional rivet heads added.
The front hull has three new panels, the driver’s plate with fixed driver’s door and cut-out for the Besa MG for which you are given the cradle but not the MG barrel which can be rescued from the Tamiya kit. The new glacis has the correct splash guards for this early version and the new lower front plate has a separate tow bracket, although this was missing from my set.
At the back are new upper and lower plate sections with a locating block which is glued to the Tamiya lower hull to ensure the rear panels are attached securely at the correct angle, another nice touch. An alternative upper rear panel is supplied for the Mk.V version if required as this had additional bolt head details from the earlier type.
Along the hull sides are the early rounded profile exhausts with well defined louvers and securing bolt details or you can use the square armoured exhausts from the Tamiya kit seen on the majority of Mk.IIIs but note that some alterations are needed on these also as the three raised panels on the upper cover are not on the Mk.III exhausts. At the front are the new square escape hatches and front channels where you can use the clear Perspex templates to cut your own parts from plastic card or simply use the Perspex parts if you feel you won’t need them as templates later to save a bit of work.
There are other details that will have to be added around the hull and referring to good references will show what needs to be added, mostly small fittings and detail items but nothing major.
The many large and small rivet heads will have to be added along the hull
sides and if you used the resin side panels the smaller rivets at the rear
are already there with the instructions having diagrams showing the location
of the larger rivets. It is best to drill a hole for each of these and then
insert the small locating pin included on each rivet casting for precise location.
You will have to source the many smaller rivet heads yourself and as some of these have a rounded profile using a punch and die set wouldn’t give the correct profile, it is probably best to use an old kit as a rivet donor such as a Tamiya Stuart or M3 Lee. These two kits are a great source of rounded rivet heads by carefully cutting off the kit rivets with a sharp blade and re-using; I have a number of bare Stuart hulls after being stripped of their rivets.
The turret casting is excellent with the hollow upper shell having hatch openings with crisp clean details on the square profile of the Mk.III turret; this also matches available 1:35 plans for size and shape. There are subtle weld seams on the actual turret which are not present on the resin turret but these are a lot smaller than on some other welded turrets and should be easy the add. A separate lower turret ring is included that fits perfectly into the upper shell and includes the rear undercut of the turret design.
The separate Commander’s cupola ring is nicely detailed with separate doors for this and the loader’s hatches plus separate periscopes and ventilator covers and a typical square storage box is supplied for the back of the turret.
Two gun tubes are supplied for the early (Mk.3) and later (Mk.5) types which are attached to the separate inner gun mounting that has the Besa MG cradle included but again you will have the rescue the MG barrel from the Tamiya kit. I had a problem with the inner gun mount brackets, firstly in identifying the actual parts in the kit and then once identified I found I only had one gun mount bracket instead of the two, this is why I had trouble finding them as I was looking for two parts.
One reason just the single bracket is included may be due to one of the brackets being cast integral with the turret front part in the Mk.IV conversion and only one separate bracket is required but this is not the case with this set where there is no cast on bracket on the back of the turret front and you need two mounting brackets. It isn’t a big deal in making another bracket using the one provided as a template but would have been better if two were included.
These have three pages with line drawings with exploded view and plan view drawings of the major sections to aid in construction and placement of parts such as bolt heads. Unfortunately there are some areas that are not very clear especially regarding the use of the templates and in identifying some of the smaller parts and good references will help out here.
A fairly comprehensive conversion set with well cast parts and only a few minor blemishes to contend with. Having all the parts pre-cleaned is a big bonus but there is still some work involved to fit the new parts to the Tamiya kit. This set is not for the inexperienced modeller and previous experience working with resin parts and conversions will be helpful as will some good references on the Churchill.
All the major parts for the Mk.III are included such as the hull side panels, turret, exhausts and front plates but as with any kit there are still other updates that can be done to fully detail the kit.
|Mr. Churchill's Tank
The British Infantry Tank Mk.IV
Schiffer Military Publications
See review for details.
Churchill Infantry Tank 1941–51
Tanks Illustrated No.25
The Churchill Tank
By Chris Ellis
Arms & Armour Press.
A good overall coverage of the Churchill with many shots of the AVRE with close up of the petard.
| Modelling the Churchill Tank
Osprey Modelling 21
Tamiya Photographic Album No.3
British Churchill Tank
Tamiya Plastic Model Co.
Has some excellent line drawings of the Mk.III/IV hull, turret and smaller details as well as full walkaround of the Mk.VII.
Thanks to my credit card for the review set.
IMA sets are available through the LionMarc website.
Page created October 17, 2005