This kit used the original moulds, depicting a Crusader III with the long 6pdr Mk V gun with muzzle collar. It includes full-length sand shields as used on tanks in North Africa, complete with rails for the "Sunshade" mock lorry camouflage device, packs, helmets and a rolled tarpaulin as extra stowage and three crew figures in shorts and shirtsleeves. These items were not included in the I/II and I kits. Smaller side-mounted mudguards are also provided to allow a vehicle in the UK to be modelled. Figures are not up to the standard of modern offerings, and may well be discarded by the serious modeller.
While the kit was good in its time, it did have one problem in the form of a raised step on the front mudguards which were patterned on the vehicle at the Aberdeen Proving Ground though this is easily corrected. There is a basic breech for the 6pdr but no other interior detail, anyone using the optional open turret hatches will need to add their own detail from elsewhere. Driver’s hatches are modelled closed but with the flaps as separate parts, they could be altered to open up that area. Details could be improved, and various etch and resin sets have been produced though those to convert to earlier marks were rendered redundant by the revamped Italeri kits.
What is new in this release, as with other Revell GMBH issues of Italeri kits, is a new decal sheet. These are not well researched, and only one set of markings is close to the original vehicles they try to depict.
First option is for 9th Queens Lancers dated January 1942, too early for a Mk III. It appears to be based on the old Profile artwork, and copies the same errors as that with the Division sign facing the wrong way as well as being on a rectangular background not an oval, the arm of service marking is on a black background not the correct oval. And the front markings are shown the wrong way round compared to photos.
Second scheme for 6th Armoured Division in Tunisia, a plain green vehicle with few markings but these do match those shown in photos in the old Profile and David Fletcher’s Osprey New Vanguard. Squadron tactical signs come in white and golden yellow, I cannot be sure which is correct. The photos show the tank carried the shorter Mk III gun.
Third along is listed as 7th Armoured Division at Sidi Rezegh. While the unit is not listed, the name FLY FLAPPER is consistent with those used by 6RTR but their tanks were Mk I or II, not III. The Desert Rat marking is very artistic but a little large, while the arm of service marking is depicted as a hollow square not a solid one.
Fourth and final option is described as 7th Armoured Division 1943, and uses the same division and arm of service markings as the third scheme. Same comments apply.
The Crusader III entered production in May 1942, seeing service first at Alamein and then in both 8th Army and 1st Army in the final stages of the North Africa campaign though it was not used as a gun tank elsewhere. Production continued into 1943 with the final vehicles being built without turrets to be completed as anti-aircraft and gun tractor vehicles.
With the markings being not the best, this would still be a welcome return into production for this kit. However, at least in the UK, the recommended price is around twice that of the Italeri Mk I which makes it less than good value. That said, if you want a Crusader III in 1/35th then this is the only currently available option. Conversion potential is limited to the shorter gun style, though alternative markings are possible for tanks in North Africa or the UK in British or Polish service. It could be used with one of the conversion sets to depict the anti-aircraft or gun tractor vehicles, though apart from the hull hatch where the sub-turret was on the early versions the Mk I/II and I kits from Italeri are just as suitable.
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|Crusader and Covenanter Cruiser Tanks 1939–45
New Vanguard 14
ISBN 1 85532 512 8
First published in 1976 and may be hard to find these days.
Page created 21 January 2005