AFV Club
Churchill Mk.III
British Infantry Tank

AFV Club 1:35 Kit No. AF 35153

Review by Terry Ashley

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This long awaited kit from AFV Club has finally arrived and will be the first in a series of Churchills to follow that should please all Allied modellers.

The kit represents either a mid/late Churchill III or reworked earlier Mk.III as it has the additional side and nose appliqué armour with the large retaining bolts as well as some fender features and rear plate/smoke dischargers of the later types

The Kit:
This mutli-media kit consist of 394 part in two shades if green plastic with a further 14 clear plastic parts, 29 etched parts, 22 steel suspension springs, a turned aluminium barrel, length of thread, a couple of poly caps and the two full lengths of soft vinyl track. Added to this is the decal sheet, 20 page instruction sheet and the now standard poster with just the box art image of the Churchill MK.III for those whole like to decorate their model cave.

Etched parts
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Metal and vinyl parts
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Full lenght soft vinyl tracks
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The standard of plastic moulding is very good overall with clean crisp details although there is a bit of fine flash on some of the smaller parts and the odd shallow pin and sink marks but nothing to get excited over as these are easily cleaned up.

One thing to watch is there are many very small plastic parts and removing these from the sprues will need care as a couple were damaged in my kit due to the sprue attachment especially where there is a chunk of sprue between two small parts. You will need to take care with these as well as working well over you bench as dropping some of these on the floor could result in problems. The etched parts are also well done with fine bending lines to aid in the simple bending where required.

Dimensionally the kit measures up well against available data and the 1:35 plans in the recent GUNPower book and in older issues of Panzer and Tank magazines which have been reproduced in more recent Ground Power issues. There are a few variations between the plans, mostly the turret as below which makes it difficult to establish the facts but most discrepancies are well within acceptable tolerances such as printing etc.

Lower Hull/Suspension:
The lower hull is made up of the large side panniers that house the suspension and a separate lower hull and rear hull plate and fitting these together, especially the hull side panels (parts A1, A3) has a major bearing of the fit of the rest of the kit and in particular the upper top plate as we’ll look at further below.

The suspension on the Churchill is quite a complicated affair and this is replicated on the kit with this being the most time consuming part of the whole kit and it’s good this is tackled early in the construction as its relatively plain sailing after this. It should be noted that the suspension with the use of the metal springs can be made fully workable and there have been no compromises in detail to achieve this with the springs looking very much to scale when compared to photos of the rear suspension.

The side panniers are in two parts with the entry hatch opening and surrounding lip detail as well as the openings for the air intakes, you also have to drill out the holes for the large bolt heads if these are to be used. If you wish to backdate the kit to an early Mk.III these bolts would not be used but the additional hull thickness is something you can do little about and wouldn’t be that noticeable on the final model.

The instructions don’t mention the hole size to drill but you should use a 1.4mm (3/64th inch) drill for these and you also need to watch as the bolts are in different positions on either side of the hull with an extra hole location included on the right side (part C2) that shouldn’t be drilled out, so take care here.

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Removing the very small bolt heads from the sprues will require care with the cleanup of the sprue attachment bur but fitting into the drilled holes in easy. AFV Club have also released a set of brass bolt heads (set #AG35020) if you want a little crisper definition on the bolt heads but this is only marginal with the biggest advantage of the brass bolts being no cleanup required. These brass bolts can also be used on Cromwell/Centaur kits as well but two sets would be needed.

The suspension itself is made up of about 50 parts per side and will need care and patience during assemble as quite a few parts shouldn’t be glued especially if you want the suspension to articulate after assembly and it also aids during assembly to leave the springs posts in particular unglued.

You firstly slip the metal springs over the suspension posts (parts D5, D6) and then sit the posts into the recesses in one side of the panniers, the springs will help keep these in place while you attach the other pannier half but don’t actually glue the suspension posts in place as leaving these free will aid in lining up the axles with the lower suspension arms later.

Don’t worry about the large join seam between the two pannier parts as this will be hidden after assembly in any case.

The outer suspension mountings are in two parts each due to the front section being different on the MK.IV and added between these mountings are 11 cross members, there are actually four different types of cross members numbered D17, D18, D19 and D20 so take careful note of the parts and their location. I actually numbered these with a fine felt pen before removing from the sprues top avoid any confusion, the same goes for the 11 axle mountings which are also different (parts D21, D22, D23).

After attaching the cross members to one side mounting and let dry you then slip the appropriate axle mountings in place and glue the cross members to the other side mounting ensuring you do not glue the actual axle mountings in the process. Adding 2 or 3 axle mountings and gluing as you go is easier as keeping all 11 axle mountings in place while fitting the side mountings is all but impossible. Note part D19 required a little trimming to fit flush with the side mountings to allow this to fit snugly when attaching to the side panniers but other than that to kit was good if a little fliddly to get everything in place.

Once the glue on the axle mounting assembly has dried this is then fitted over the panniers and spring posts and it best to do this initially with the axle mountings facing downwards so gravity will hold these in the down position allowing the posts to ease into place. If you try and fit this the other way the axle mountings get in the way of the posts causing a few hassles.

After fitting the axle mountings over the spring posts you then have to align the axle stubs on the posts and axle mounting and this is where leaving the posts unglued will help as they may be facing the wrong way initially.

You then fit the road wheels in place which secures the axle stubs but strangely the fit of the wheels was so tight on my kit the wheels do not rotate but the suspension springs articulate very nicely as the springs are strong enough to push the wheel back into position after being depressed if you want to articulate the suspension for a diorama or such.

Just a quick note on removing the road wheels from the sprues as care is needed due to the thin edges of the road wheels so make sure you cut well away from the edge when removing the wheels from the sprue and trim later to ensure there is no damage the road wheel edges.

Detail on the road wheels and suspension parts is very well done and matches photos of the real things perfectly and the assembled suspension looks very much to scale even with the full articulation possible.

Detail on the idler wheels and drive sprockets is also very well done and the wheel dimensions also match the plans perfectly. Each wheel is in two halves with very crisp detail not requiring any additional cleanup other than the sprue attachment burs on a couple of the teeth and there is a vinyl poly cap trapped between the two drive sprocket halves for easy fitting to the drive axle. The final drive housing is also a separate part that is attached to the hull side plate with the idlers having two mounting panels attached to the front of the side panniers.

When attaching the assembled side panniers/suspension to the hull sides (parts A1. A3) you should temporarily fit the upper hull plate (part B25) between the two hull side as you glue them to get the spacing correct to ensure a good fit of the top deck later. This is important as gluing the hull sides into place without checking the fit of the top deck can result in rather large gaps between the hull sides and deck when you come to fit the deck later, so save yourself some grief and check this now.

Gluing the assembled suspensions to the lower and rear hull plates is very straightforward as the fit is very good if a little fiddly to get lined but once in place the fit is good. The rear hull extensions that fit over the drive sprockets are also nicely detailed and fit precisely onto place but you should note there are attachment brackets for the later fender bracings (parts E10) and if these are not fitted you have to cut off the mounting brackets from the hull extensions (parts C5, C11) as the instructions omit to mention this.

Also there are the elaborate mud scrappers that are trapped between the hull and outer panels as these are fitted and you shouldn’t glue these as they are designed to move a little, just watch that you fit the scrappers the right way up as it’s easy for these to be added upside down.

Other details added to the hull sides are the separate crew entry doors that have additional inner face detail if you wanted to show these open but as there is no internal detail its better to leave these closed and there are the large mud slides added to the front which have nice detail and fit easily into place although you have to line these up by eye with the top of the front armour, not a big problem.

The other major item is the large side armoured air intake trunks which are made up of 5 parts each with the top mesh screen with moulded mesh detail but as this is covered by the top cover is more than adequate. Care is needed with the front lip of the top mesh panel when removing from the sprue as the attachment is right on the thin lip edge and you can easily damage the lip if not careful.

Assembly of the trunks was straightforward and the fit to the hull sides very precise with the trunks in the accompanying images just sat in place not actually glued such is the good fit.

At the back is the smoke generators made up of three parts each (1 etched) and the air deflectors but you should check references as these may not be applicable if you are backdating the kit to an early Mk.III?

The upper rear plate has very fine auxiliary fuel tank mountings that require you to drill out locating holes in the rear plate but there are no actual fuel tanks included in the kit and these will have to be found elsewhere if you want to fit these?

The upper air intake grills are also separate parts but there is a bit of cleanup needed on these before fitting with the fit off all the real panels being very good not requiring any trimming other than some very fine flash on a couple of mating surfaces that would probably be dissolved by the glue in any case as its really very minor.

Upper Hull:
The main upper deck panel includes the forward crew hatch cut-outs, the turret ring and rear engine door cut-outs as well as separate front periscopes and ventilator dome and as mentioned above you must ensure the proper fit of the hull sides beforehand to avoid problems when fitting the upper deck, sorry to go on about this but it’s a potential for drama if overlooked.

The periscopes are made up of 4 parts, 2 plastic and 2 clear with the outer body having the clear inner periscope and top cover added as well as the full periscope housing inside the hull and you can position the periscopes at any angle you wish as there rotated on the real vehicle and if careful with the glue they can be left to rotate on the final kit also.

The crew hatches are correctly offset with outer hatch frames and the separate hatches have inner padding without any pin marks to contend with as well as very small separate etched inner fittings and plastic latch handle and separate outer grab handle for good definition. The fit of the frames and hatches is very good not requiring any trimming at all and you can again leave the hatches open if you wish to include any of the resin crew figures available separately.

The rear engine deck hatches also have separate fine plastic grab handles and fit snugly to the deck cut-outs and being separate will allow the easy inclusion of engine detail should an aftermarket interior become available?

Added on the deck is the two exhaust pipes made up of six parts and sheet metal covers which are moulded quite thin for a good appearance with these all fitting neatly in place without any problems.

There is also an additional engine deck plate at the back of the main deck and this again has separate fine grab handles and fits snugly in place without any trimming needed. The pioneer tools supplied have their brackets moulded with the tools and these fit into pre-drilled holes in the deck. Replacing these brackets with etched items will improve the look and no doubt there will be etch detail sets released for this kit containing such items?

Moving to the front the glacis has very fine details including with the bullet splash guards being especially finely done and this plate has to added before the lower front plate as you have to slide the glacis into the slots on the insides of the inner idler mounting plates but the fit is very snug once in place.

Added to the glacis are the two part head lights but you may want to leave these off until later to avoid damage at this stage?

The lower front plate also fits snugly into place and includes a separate central tow bracket as well as the two large armour attachment bolts that would have to be removed if backdating to an early Mk.III.

The driver’s plate has a separate main vision port hatch with the smaller bolted vision flap also separate so you can show either the full hatch or just to port open as was often the case, there are additional smaller plastic and etched parts added to the hatch as well as the visor on the inside.

On the left is the co-axial BESA MG in full with an etched part for the jacket although the barrel will need to be drilled out for a better appearance. The BESA then fits into the armoured cradle that is held in place by two securing brackets that allow both elevation and traverse. The BESA is quite nice but the barrel could be improved with the use of an aftermarket item such as those from Lionmarc/Passions Models without any problems.

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Added to the panel is the outer armour block around the co-axial MG and due to the thickness of the block there are a few shallow sink marks present that you may want to address with the fit of the driver’s panel being very good but you should fit the main driver’s panel in place before adding the additional armour block as this partly sits on top of the glacis.

Added each side of the glacis are the inner fender plates that also hold the wooden jack blocks and the plates are different for left and right so watch this when fitting.

The fit of the main top deck is very good between the driver’s plate, the side panels and the rear engine deck plate proving you checked the side plates as mentioned earlier.

The final parts for the hull are the fenders which are provided in six main segments plus the side fender plates at front and back as well as the rubber (in plastic) mud flaps added to the front fenders, there are also alternate parts at the back depending if you are building the later or earlier style fenders.

Providing these fender segments as separate parts is a great bonus not only for easier fitting but to allow you to build the model with any number of fender segments missing as is often seen in photos of battle weary Churchill’s.

Added to the rear fender segments are the storage racks for four water cans and these have additional etched brackets for a nice appearance.

Before fitting the fenders you have to add the full length vinyl track which have quite good details for the medium but there are some pour plug marks on some links that are difficult to remove and joining the tracks together is an interesting exercise as there are no actual pins to join the ends and normal plastic cement has no effect. I tried using a medium thickness cyanoacrylate but this came apart while stretching the track around the idler and drive sprocket and ended up heat welding the two ends together. This resulted in a bit of link distortion due to the lack of join pins but this can be easily hidden under the fenders or at ground contact with the tracks fitting very nicely around the idler, drive sprocket and the road wheels with a slight track stretch to make for a snug fit.

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AFV Club have also released a set of individual Churchill track links as an alternative to the vinyl and a full review of those tracks will follow shortly.

Update 18 November:
There has been some discussion on the turret size in this kit and I have now got hold of sets of 1:35 plans from older Panzer and Tank magazines of the Mk.III and these vary in the turret sizes, mostly the width with both these plans showing the turret slightly wider than in the GUNpower book. Checking these sizes again with the kit turret the length and shape is spot on against all plans but the width varies by up to 1mm each side depending on the plan used.

This makes it difficult to determine the correct dimensions and hopefully when more info is available such as the exact width of the Mk.III turret we can determine if there is an issue with the kit or the plans?

To try and establish the facts further here, on page 64 of Mr. Churchill's Tank by David Fletcher there is a Tank Museum tech drawing of the Mk.III turret but not to any scale. I have scanned this as well as scanning the kit turret roof, scaled the drawing proportionally and overlayed the outline to that of the kit turret. You have to take into account the perspective effect here as the drawing is flat while the kit turret roof is slanted towards the front.

But given this very unscientific process the overlayed drawing outline is pretty much spot on the kit turret outline, also the image is larger than 1:35 meaning any differences are magnified. The main differences are the position of the Loader's hatch and the two periscope mountings and again the periscope position could be partly due to the perspective effect as mentioned.

If I can get the actual dimensions of the turret I will update this info further but this would indicate the kit turret is more accurate in size than the available plans on the info available at this time.

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The welded Mk.III turret is nicely done with the main shell with roof and two sides plus a separate rear plate, lower turret ring and the front plate with opening for the gun and co-axial BESA as well as having openings for the separate periscopes and crew hatches with weld seams nicely done around the outer edges of the roof and along the top plate join line.

The periscopes are the same as with the hull pericopes having the inner clear periscopes and outer housing and top cover with clear periscope and they can be positioned at any angle as they also rotate in their mountings like the hull periscopes.

The Commander’s cupola is nicely done with separate hatches that have inside padding without any pin marks as are the Loader’s hatches along with additional smaller inside latches and outer hatch brackets that will need care removing from the sprues and in fitting.

The cupola vision ports have separate covers but the edges are very thin and due to the sprue attachment being right on the edge there was a little damage and care will be needed removing these from the sprues. There is also a small light added to the side of the cupola made up of two parts.

The sight vane is in thin etched brass but it designed to just butt join to the small mounting and this makes for a rather fragile join and including a pin on the sight would have been helpful but care will be needed to avoid loosing the sight.

The 6pdr has the full gun breech inside as well as the full BESA co-axial MG the same as for the hull and again drilling out the barrel or replacing with a metal barrel will improve the appearance.

The metal 6pdr barrel has a double bevel profile in front of the gun mounting and while this is not the most common profile seen on the Mk.III 6pdr it does represent a version of the OF 6pdr used at the time (thanks to Peter Brown for the data on the barrel type).

The assembled gun breech fits to the back of the gun mantlet but I needed to trim the locating pin on the front of the breech a little while the metal barrel fits into the front of the mantlet and the gun assembly is held in place behind the front plate with two brackets allowing gun elevation.

The fit of the front and rear plates to the main turret shell is very good without the need for any trimming or gaps to be filled as is the lower turret ring making for a quick and easy assembly of the main turret parts.

At the back is a three part turret box that goes together well and attaches to the four raised bosses on the rear turret wall and the turret ring is designed to clip into the hull top turret ring without the usual notch cut-outs used on many kits. This makes for the cleaner appearance but it’s not easy to remove the turret after fitting so you may want to leave this off until towards final assembly.

Other items added to the turret are the two fire extinguishers either side of the rear box and the signal flag container which is nicely textured plus the two rod antenna made from stretched sprue.

These are the usual exploded view type drawings that have a few small photos of the real vehicle included to help with the detail. The sequences are very clear and easy to follow and I didn’t come across any bloopers in the sections of the kit assembled during this review.

The decal sheet is nicely printed with good colour register and a selection of unit markings, serials and vehicle names for four Churchill Mk.IIIs
  • A: British Army “Kingforce”, El Alamein, 1942.
    This is one of six Churchill Mk.IIIs that took part in the El Alamein battles but note that some were earlier vehicles without the appliqué armour while others have this fitted. The vehicle on the decal sheet is T31954R and photo evidence shows this had the appliqué armour fitted as well as the canvas “dodger” slung between the front fenders to keep dust away from the driver’s position for those building the version.
  • B: Soviet Army, Winter 1942-53 (Slogan "Aleksandr Nevskij")
  • C: 14th Canadian Army Tank Regiment (Calgary Regiment), Britain 1942
  • D: “CYCLOPS” 51st Royal Tank Regiment, Tunisia, Feb 1943

Decal sheet
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Clear Parts
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In a nutshell this kit is very much worth the wait and is a superbly done mid/late Churchill Mk.III with the standout feature being the superb rendition of the complicated Churchill suspension that allows for fully articulated suspension if you wish. The metal springs provided look very much in scale adding to the final appearance.

Other details are very well done and the fit of the parts superb without any trimming needed but take care with the position of the hull side panels for the hull top fit as outlined above as this has potential to cause problems for the unwary.

The kit is not for the inexperience modeller due to the intricate suspension but the design of the kit makes the possibility of conversions a much simply prospect and we can expect an Mk.IV version to follow and hopefully some of the AVRE types based on the Mk.III/IV chassis.

Highly recommended for Allied modellers.

The Sprues:

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Detail images
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Sprue detail images
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On the net:

Armour in Focus Profiles - The Churchill Tank


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

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

See review for details.

book Churchill vol.1
GUNpower 26

By Leszek Moczulski
Published by AJ Press
ISBN 978-83-7237-194-9

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.


Churchill Infantry Tank 1941-51
New Vanguard No.4
Osprey Publishing
ISBN 1 85532 297 8

Good overall coverage of all variants of the Churchill.

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.

Tristar Shop Thanks to AFV Club for the review kit.
Tristar Shop is distributed in Australia by J.B.Wholesalers

Page created November 16, 2008
Updated November 18, 2008 (blue text)

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