Anybody who has a interest in AFV models from World War 2 must be at least aware of the family of Churchill tanks being released by AFV Club
at a steady pace. The latest addition to the Churchill family from AFV Club
is one of Hobartís Funnies, the Churchill Mk IV TLC laying device and carpet. Major General Percy Hobart and his 79th Armoured Division had a host of strange devices designed for a host of specific purposes; most of these devices were mounted to either the Churchill Tank or Sherman Tank. Hobartís Funnies saved a lot of lives on the Day in June when the Allies started to free Europe from the Naziís grasp. It is worth mentioning that Major General Percy Hobart was held in very high regard by Guderian in Germany and American commanders, but was not liked by many British officers who resented losing their horses.
The Churchill Mk IV TLC Laying Device and Carpet (Type A) job was to lay a canvas carpet reinforced with metal bars on the beaches and soft ground to allow armour to get ashore without becoming grounded. Because of this simple design Allied armour was able to come ashore and get off of the beaches, helping to make D-Day a success.
The model is packaged in the now standard tray and lid used by AFV Club
. All of the parts with the exception of the tracks are packed either singly or as pairs in plastic bags, the contents of the box breaks down as follows:
- 12 green sprues
- Upper turret
- 1 clear sprue
- 2 photo etched frets
- 2 vinyl rubber track runs
- 2 individual vinyl rubber track links
- 22 metal springs
- 1 turned aluminium barrel
- 1 decal sheet
- An instruction booklet
- A box top artwork poster
An inspection of the parts that go into making this model left me with a positive feeling. There is no flash present despite that I suspect a number of the sprues are from earlier releases of the Churchill from AFV Club
. There are ejector marks present on a number of the mouldings, but it is my belief that these are on surfaces that will not be seen on the completed model. Flow or cooling marks are present on a number of pieces, but these do not appear to have left any deformities in the parts where present. I did find 2 identical parts with minor sink marks in them, but these are again in areas not seen on the completed model, this may not always be the case.
Anyone who has built one of the AFV Club
Churchill tanks or read a review of one previously will be familiar with the sponsons, suspension, wheels and tracks. When AFV Club
released their first Churchill tank offering, the springs for the suspension came in for some heated words from modellers; however the design then is from memory exactly the same as the approach taken now, but with perhaps slightly softer springs. The track run being in vinyl rubber will please some and annoy others; I know that AFV Club
has an excellent set of individual track links for the Churchill tank, and some offerings from AFV Club
range have these in the box. On this occasion though it is the vinyl tracks in the box, but the individual links can I believe be purchased separately if wished. Detail is good overall but there are some minor accuracy issues that a number of aftermarket companies cater too.
The hull is a multi part affair, this means some extra care needs to be taken during assembly, but this approach has allowed AFV Club
to produce the large number of Churchillís currently on the market. For those interested there are interiors available for the Churchill tank, both full and partial. A link to one of the AFV Club
Churchillís with an interior, built by Alan McNeilly can be found at the end of this review, should this possibility appeal to you. One thing I particularly like about this area of the model, is the detailed BESA machine gun for the hull and the turret, it has to be said; I would however liked to have seen slide moulding utilised for the muzzle of the barrel, but again companies such as RB Model do provide brass barrel ends for the BESA MG. The tools supplied with the model are separate parts, but with moulded on clamp detail. I am unsure if it is just a case of modellers being spoilt of late, but the option of tools with photo etched clamps would have been a nice option here. So far happy with the model.
TLC Laying Device and Carpet
The important part of this model is the carpet laying device, and it does not look to disappoint. The detail is good, but I cannot cover the accuracy as I could not find reference for this particular carpet laying design. The construction of this area looks to be well thought out and should not present any issues. The problem comes when you go to attach the carpet, there isnít one to attach! AFV Club
instruct you to use paper cut to a width of 92mm, and then goes on to tell you paper of the correct thickness and length, data that is not supplied in the instructions. Another hiccup in this area is that after a little research it tells you that the canvas was strengthened via the addition of metal rods in pockets across the canvas. I cannot help but think AFV Club
have made a cock up here, as this in reality being the most important aspect of the model, you donít know the length of the canvas substitute or how far apart the metal rods are; I can forgive the thickness aspect, as any thin paper should do. However I feel the other two measurements are important, I suppose I will have to wait for one of the knowledgeable Churchill members such as Chris Meddings to come up with the data.
The turret offered with this model has the 6pdr gun mounted in it. Detail is again good, with the addition of the turned aluminium barrel being a good inclusion. The hatches can be displayed in the open or closed position, but with no interior they will need to be filled with figures. The exterior sight is included as a photo etched offering and is one of those details that does catch the eye. I do like the turret minimal parts count and good detail.
Instructions and Decals
The instruction booklet is a good quality glossy paper offering. The English portion of the introduction could do with tweaking a little, but it does provide a reasonable level of information. The instructions are fairly clear as regards part number and placement, but is let down by the failure to mention drill sizes for opening up some of the holes mentioned in them. The biggest problem is that lack of information on the carpet itself, but these problems are not insurmountable.
Decal placement is a little weak, only showing placement of 6 of the included decals. I would have expected the emblem of the 79th Armoured Division to appear on the tank somewhere, usually the front and rear fender. The paper that covers the decals was stuck to them and required very gentle peeling from different directions to remove the paper without causing damage to the decals, and that despite being in a sealed bag. I am not for one moment going to suggest this is normal, but it was the case with this sample.
This is for the most part a very competent model of a little produced machine. Most of the details I could find are included with and replicated on the model. The situation with the canvas mat seems a silly oversight, and I am sure a source of many arguments. With that all said and as I said before none of the problems here are unfixable, just problems you would not have expected to encounter in some cases.
Related features and Reviews
Building the Churchill AVRE Mk IV
Building the Churchill Mk III c/w Interior
Churchill Mk III Interior Detail Set
AFV Club 1/35 Churchill Mk.III w/ordnance of 75mmm gun
Churchill Mk III with Ordnance QF 75mm Mk V Gun
Churchill Mk IV British Infantry Tank
And finally a high quality build taking place at this time in Armoramaís forums of a Churchill Mk.III by Mike Roof.
AFV Club AF35135 "Churchill Mk.IIIĒ