Churchill Mk IV AVRE
Conversion Set

# LF1063

Review by Peter Brown
With the only currently available 1:35 plastic kit of a Churchill being from Tamiya - available in two versions, the original and recently reissued Crocodile as kit 35100, and a Mk VII as 35210 which is the same basic vehicle without the flame trailer but with extra crew figures - anyone wanting a earlier Mark has a lot of conversion work to do to. This set will certainly save a lot of that work, and can be used on either Tamiya kit. Most of the parts are cleanly cast in cream coloured resin with only the carrier blocks and a few sections of thin carrier film to cut or clean away with the remainder on an etched brass fret. Assembly is easy to follow, instructions use clear colour photos showing the parts layout followed by a step by step study of the model being built detailing the parts to be removed from the original kit and the fitting of the new items.

The set gives us a complete turret, this has several details cast in and a fairly subtle "cast armour" texture. Comparing it with original drawings in "Mr Churchill's Tank", various photos in print and online and the AVRE turret in the Bovington Tank Museum's coach park, I think the front plate should be more rounded, the top edge looks to me to be too square and the section next to the commander's cupola should be curved and not sharply angled. Lower edge is well profiled and follows the complicated shape of the original. Commander's cupola and loaders hatches are all separate parts, the turret is a solid casting but there are deep indentations under both hatches for those who want to model crew figures in them. Turret stowage bin is a separate item, which allows it to be positioned to leave a gap between it and the turret to clear the circular opening on the rear face.

Main armament of the wartime AVREs was the Petard, this is well depicted using several parts and even has the rifling inside the tube. It can only be assembled in its loaded position, not "broken" to allow the round to be put into place and no "Flying Dustbin" is provided to show it loaded and ready to fire.

The other parts are to convert the hull. A complete front section replaces sections of the kit part which have to be cut away; this is in one piece with separate machine gun mounting and central towing eye. Driver's vision port is moulded shut which means extra work if you want to show it opened up. New periscope heads for the hull crew are provided, as is a replacement hull gunner's hatch which on the real vehicle was a solid plate with a small sliding section through which the Petard was loaded. This slid open along a framework which the conversion does not include.

As well as the characteristic square side doors used on all the earlier Marks of Churchill, new sections of the hull panniers forward of them are provided as well as the first two suspension units each side and the outer hull armour plates which were shaped differently to the Mk VII/VIII style. Etched brass parts are used to make the framework which supported the track between the idler and the main panniers, with other brass parts for the outer edge of the front mud chutes. Even the large boltheads which secured the outer armour plates are included as resin items.

Also in resin we have the mounting points on the hull sides. Originally designed for the Anti Mine Reconnaissance Castor Roller they were used on the AVRE for mounting various carpet-laying devices. New etched parts are included for the mesh covers over the side air intakes and rear exhaust louvres.

Last but not least are new tracks. Some though not all AVREs were fitted with the older design Heavy Cast Steel tracks and the set depicts these as sets of lengths of 18 plates and separate links, more than enough to allow plenty of spares to fit as extra armour. And if you want to use the kit tracks or other aftermarket items, you have a set of Heavy Cast Steel tracks for another project.

The appearance of AVREs in the field did vary, as with other Churchills some had complete trackguards fitted while others had none with many combinations in between. Modellers will need to decide what state they want to show fairly early on in the conversion work, and also find colour and markings information as none are provided.

Legends have reworked their AVRE turret with minor dimensional and detail updates with newly produced conversion sets contain the new turret, see HERE for images of the new turret against the old for the changes made.

Overall, this is a good set which with the tracks is well priced as resin conversions go

Resin Turret
Etched Parts
Resin parts
Instruction Sheets
Legend Legend

Best general reference on Churchills is David Fletchers "Mr Churchill's Tank" though this does not cover the AVRE, this is one of the vehicles described and illustrated on his "Vanguard of Victory" on 79th Armoured Division. Some photos are in the old Tanks Illustrated No 25 "The Churchill Tank" by Peter Chamberlain and Chris Ellis, while the classic "The Funnies" by Geoffrey W Futter has more photos and background plus 1/76 plans of various devices carried by AVRE. 1/35 versions of these are available from the Military Modelling Plans Service.
book The Funnies
A History with scale plans of the 79th Armoured Division

Geoffrey W. Futter
ISBN 0 85242 405 1

Is out of print and may be hard to find but has a detailed coverage with 1/76th scale plans of all the specialised vehicles used by the 79th AD from D-Day onwards.


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.


Vanguard of Victory
published by HMSO
ISBN 0 11 280422 X

A history of the 79th Armoured Division but may be hard to find these days.


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

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

See review for details.


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.

Review sets courtesy:
Friendship Models
12, Delta Drive
East Lothian, EH21 8HR
United Kingdom
Phone: (0131)-665-4087

See the Legend Productions site for more details on this and other sets available.

Page created 4 May 2004

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