Churchill Mk.III

IMA Set #35004
1:35th Scale
Review by Terry Ashley

This conversion set from IMA is again 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.

This conversion is very similar to the Mk.III conversion in set #35003 with just the new cast turret and fittings applicable to the Mk.IV with most of the hull parts being the same, minus the rounded exhaust boxes.

The set consists of 15 parts in clear Perspex, 6 in black Perspex with a further 36 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 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.

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 you use the square Tamiya kit exhausts either on the Tamiya part or attached to the new resin parts but note that some alterations are needed on these as the three raised panels on the upper cover are not on the Mk.IV 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 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 solid turret in one casting with subtle cast surface texture and deep hatch openings and the front hollowed out to take the separate front hull section and inside gun mounting with the turret matching available 1:35 plans for size and shape. Unfortunately the fit of the front turret section is not very good and there is a fairly large gap around the edges that will require filling.

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. There are alternate periscope and ventilator openings on the roof of the turret with a small “filler” piece (or plug) to fill in openings not used and this allows for the different periscope/ventilator arrangements seen on different Mk.IV turrets, but again the fit of the plug is not that good and some filling will be needed to blend this in.

Two gun tubes are supplied for the early (Mk.3) and later (Mk.5) later 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 form the Tamiya kit. The front turret section has one bracket cast integrally and a separate bracket that allows the gun mount to be fitted easily allowing the gun to be elevated.

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.

Another 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 as well as few fit problems to contend with. 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.

Again all the major parts for the Mk.IV are included such as the hull side panels, turret and front plates but as with any kit there are still other updates that can be done to fully detail the kit.

Highly recommended

Resin Parts
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On the Web:

Armour In Focus the Churchill Infantry tank

book Mr. Churchill's Tank
The British Infantry Tank Mk.IV

David Fletcher
Schiffer Military Publications
ISBN 0-7643-0679-0

See review for details.


Churchill Infantry Tank 1941–51
Osprey New Vanguard 4
Bryan Perrett

ISBN: 1855322978

book Tanks Illustrated No.25
The Churchill Tank

By Chris Ellis
Arms & Armour Press.
ISBN 0-85368-808-7

A good overall coverage of the Churchill with many shots of the AVRE with close up of the petard.

book Modelling the Churchill Tank
Osprey Modelling 21

Mark Bannerman

ISBN: 1841768693

book 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

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