1⁄35C2 Mexas Build Review
IntroductionThe following build review of Takoms Canadian Leopard C2 MEXAS will be strictly Out Of the Box (OOB). I have never finished any kit OOB always adding that little extra to help out accessorizing or bettering the kit details. The aim of this build was for me to see just what could be accomplished with just what was in the box. Without spoiling the ending I will say that in my humble opinion I think it came out pretty good. Will I build another kit OOB? Probably not as I like to super detail my builds. The downside over being an aftermarket junkie is that those builds usually take time, lot of time, several months to almost a year actually. This build took me approx 20 hours of actual bench time, so while OOB builds may not have all the minute details covered, you end up starting the next build rather quickly. For references I suggest the C2 MEXAS CD by Anthony Sewards C2 MEXAS CD Live links Here is Jim's unboxing of the kit; Jim's unboxing Live links And here is a tweak list put together by Anthony to help in getting the kit together more accurately. Anthony Sewards Tweak List Live links
Canadian Leopard C2The Canadian Leopard C2 MEXAS originally started life as a Leopard 1A3 purchased in the 70’s and designated Canadian Leopard C1. These were stationed mainly in West Germany until the end of the cold war in the early 90’s. In 2000 Canada purchased upgraded Leopard 1A5 turrets, installing them on the 1A3 hulls. This changed the tanks designation to Canadian Leopard C2. In 2006 to help combat the ever increasing threat, mainly IEDs and roadside bombs, Canada sent over a squadron of C2 Leopards upgraded with the Modular Expandable Armour System (MEXAS) into Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. Canada’s mission in Afghanistan ended in 2011, ending almost ten years of combat operations.
What’s in the boxIncluded in the box are six main sprues for the tank parts, the upper and lower hull, 3 sprues for the Orochi tracks along with seven sprues for the end connectors, a clear sprue for light lenses, rope for tow cables, a small PE fret, a decal sheet and a figure of an Afghan holding a cell phone and what looks like an AK 47 and an instruction sheet with a small correction sheet. I will not concern myself with building the figure for this build review.
BuildingHull Construction Step 1 has you put together the road wheels, idlers and sprockets. Nothing out of the ordinary with the poly caps sandwiched in between the halves. A few observations so far, no inner wheel detail and the plastic is a little on the soft side. Be careful when cutting from the sprues as the plastic likes to tear instead of a nice clean cut when using sprue cutters. And on one of the sprues there was an excess of mold release agent so a nice bath in warm soapy water is recommended. Make sure you separate the two outer wheels # A15 from the rest of the road wheels. These are to be placed on the front idler position. Step 2 is attaching the idler mounts, drive sprocket mounts, control arms with torsion bars, and the return roller stanchions and wheels. Very nice detail on the return rollers with all the mounting bolts well represented. Now be careful when attaching the return roller stanchions, the spindle is offset and should be sitting down towards the road wheels, not up towards the turret. Step 3 deals with installing the road wheels and sprockets which will be done at a later date.It was here that I glued the two hull halves together. I like to get this done as soon as possible just in case it requires a bunch of putty to fill any seams. Luckily this kit is good to go and the MEXAS armour will cover up the front glacis joint when installed. Step 4 and 5 are the rear hull attachments. No big issues here except that you use a centre link from the Orochi tracks. This is when I noticed that there is a nipple on the bottom of the guide that if left in place makes it impossible to position the link (part PF1) and the bracket (part A25) correctly. So with this cut off the planets fell back into alignment and all was good. As this is a minor flaw in the Orochi tracks it did not take long with a new #11 blade to trim off these protrusions from the center links. Also make sure you place the comms box C25 with the hinges down and the handle up. I have seen a few Leopard builds where builders have messed this up. One small disappointment was the one piece towing lugs/ballard hooks (part A21). These should have been made from two separate pieces. Steps 6 and 7 have you install the rear side hull details such as the exhaust and intake grills. There is a supplement in the box that points out that you have to fill some slots in the hull as they will not be used, make sure you do this before attaching the tool bins. I left off the tools on the rear deck (part C45) until after paint. Also the call out in step 7 for the inner cooling grill is marked C23, in reality it's C44. It's not like anyone would try to install the rear hull lifting eye (the real part C23) instead of the cooling grill, but little mistakes like this make me mental and I thought I would point it out anyway. The side bins comprise of three parts each, and these have no locating pins to make sure all three parts are correctly aligned. Just to help minimize the chance of getting glue finger prints all over them I decided to attach the larger parts F12 & F11 to the hull first, then build them up from there attaching the remaining two parts. The next building session focused on attaching the MEXAS hull side armour covered in steps 8 to 11. The first pieces that I installed were the two glacis parts (F16 & F4) and made sure to fill the gap between them as on the real thing this is one piece. This was made easier as I had already glued the upper and lower hulls together early on.As well I found that there was very little purchase between the side armour pieces and the top parts. So what worked for me was to install the top pieces (D17 & D21) to the hull first and after they were secured attach the side armour parts (D13 & D22) in much the same way I built the side bins in step 7. Instep 11 they have you install photo etch parts TP3 and TP4. Be careful here as you must bend the top edge 90* for it to sit on the hull properly. I also left off the rear track skirts until after I had installed the road wheels and tracks. Step 12 was made moot as I had already joined the hull halves together. Also here is where the instructions have you assemble the tracks, but I prefer doing this after I start painting to pass the time waiting for painting/weathering sessions to dry. Steps 13 and 14 deal with the tow cables and again I skip this until the painting stage. Turret Assembly Steps 15 and 16 have you assemble the main gun mantle and barrel along with the associated MEXAS armour covers. There are no locating pins or marks to properly position the inner armour section #D4 into parts F15 and F8 so some care is required. Once the armour protection is assembled it can be installed on to the mantle part C5, which is what step 15 has you install the mounts part F5 on. The main gun barrel is two halves and a lot of care has to be taken to eliminate the seams. I used foam sanding pads cut into thin strips which seemed to work well. Step 19 deals with the bustle bins for the rear of the turret. Again no locating pins or marks are provided. If you use slow setting glue it should provide more time to make sure all panels are aligned. The photo etch screens installed on part E4 fit well, just install the upper and lower handles E2 beforehand. Steps 17 and 18 concern the construction of the turret MEXAS armour modules, and once again there are no locating pins or marks. Once assembled though the look is spot on with a good tight fit. The grenade launchers on the other hand have rectangular shape locating pins. The issue is that if glued to the corresponding racks they point in the wrong direction. I had to trim the tabs into a square making sure they were angled properly. Also be careful cutting the launcher guards parts D24 and D10 from the sprues as the center support is on the delicate side. Photo etch chains would definitely increase the level of detail here, but it was not to be. Steps 20 and 21 cover the fuel and water cans and placing them on the bustle bins. Again here we have to deal with a seam made even more difficult due to the holders being moulded on to the cans. It took a little putty and some extra time with a jewellers file to eliminate the seam to my satisfaction. Step 22 is a busy one with many parts to be installed on the turret. I started with assembling the turret bottom on first. On the real tanks there is a mould seam around the circumference on the underside of the turret so don’t get too carried away trying to eliminate it. I used a little putty to fill some minor gaps and the installed the mantle cover. Once that was set I installed the main gun assembly. With regards to positioning the MEXAS armour attachment points, I started with parts F6 as these are the only ones with a locating pin. Then using my Mark 1 eyeball I installed the remaining attachment points F13 and F5. The rest of the turret went together without any fuss, although the GPS antenna guard, PE part TP13 is a little tricky, but not impossible. Step 23 has you install the rear bustle bins and the armour modules to the side of the turret. The bustle bins have no locating pins to the turret, but the side armour modules do. And the rear amour modules have a locating tab to the bustle bin, so with this arrangement I glued the rear bustle bins to the side armour modules and let this assembly set thoroughly. Once dry I placed the side modules on to their respective tabs which resulted in having to shim the rear bin attachment points. I left off the front modules until after paint as there is a Maple Leaf decal that sits on the gun trunnions which is pointed out in step 22. Steps 24 to 26 deal with the hatches, turret MG and the gunner’s sight. The step 27 has you install all those items on to the turret. No issues here other than make sure of hatch positioning if installing them open or closed. The loader hatch simply folds open, but the commander’s hatch lifts up and rotates to open so pay careful attention to the “open” and “closed” diagrams on this page. Step 28 has you install the turret to the hull, but as we still have yet to paint, will be done at a later time. Painting and weathering With the build done I started the painting with a base coat of Tamiya NATO black. I like to use the black as a primer and make sure the model is fully covered. This way it can act as pre-shading for panel lines and if I miss some spots with the green it won't be as bad. Once the black was dry I proceeded with a coat of Tamiya NATO Green. I went lightly over the main panel lines letting a small amount of the black show through. Then I lightened the mixture with a little Tamiya White to highlight the centers of the panels and some other random spots. When dry a coat of clear gloss was laid down in preparation for decals and weathering. I chose decal option B – 1st Troop. Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians), Afghanistan 2006 for no other reason than I had photographed this very tank in the maintenance compound on my deployment to KAF (Kandahar Air Field) in 2008-09. While the decals were drying I proceeded to assemble the OROCHI tracks. These went together rather easily, but you must be made aware that the detail on the end connectors are facing away from the attachment points to the sprue. So if you want the best detail you have to cut off the end connectors and install them separately. For weathering I mixed up a batch of Gulf War Sand and Ashes White 50/50 with MIG’s pigment fixer to better represent the “moon dust” environment vehicles had to deal with in the sandbox. After these pigments had dried I heavily dry brushed steel to the center links and end connectors and I called the tracks done and ready for install. After the green was sprayed on I dry brushed and pin washed the hull suspension attachment points and once dry I proceeded to install the tracks and road wheels. The seven road wheel pairs and the idler wheels were installed first then the tracks were slid on the top from back to front. I used a pair of tweezers to pull them around the front idlers. Then the drive sprockets were installed and finally the tracks connected together. I can’t praise Orochi enough for these tracks! Once built these tracks are very sturdy and can take a fair amount of stretching and bending which make installing them a lot less stressful than other plastic Indy link tracks. Once all the detail painting was done such as road wheels, lights, MG, jerry cans etc. I proceeded to dry brush the hull and turret with khaki to bring out the highlights. I like to do this before filters and washes as I find dry brushing after these steps results in too bright of an effect. After this I performed a little chipping, not very much at all as this represents an early deployed tank without much time in theatre. After that was a dark wash with MIG’s NATO wash and some Oily Grime around the fuel filler doors. The next step in my weathering process was a layer of dust using MIG pigments. I. While still wet I used a facial tissue to blot the pigments reducing the look of brush strokes and giving a more random effect. After the pigments were dry the last step calls for a thin mix of Tamiya buff, concentrating on the lower half of the hull and ending with a light misting over the entire model.
ConclusionAs a serving member of the Canadian Armed Forces I am a little biased when it comes to anything Canadian. Conversion kits aside, this is the only dedicated styrene kit available of the Leopard C2 MEXAS, so yes I will say I like it. Can it be improved? Absolutely! As with any kit some compromises have to be made concerning mass production and deadlines, and this kit is no exception. The two piece barrel, tow hooks, road wheels lacking internal detail are just some of the issues I have with this kit. On the plus side the armour modules and bolt details are well done, plus the Orochi tracks are just brilliant. Some of the plastic sprues were on the soft side and care had to be taken to remove them without damage. The moveable suspension is nice for those that like to pose their builds on vignettes or dioramas along with the inclusion of the Afghan figure. Kudos go out to Takom for putting together of this kit. Although these tanks never saw actual tank-on-tank action they are one of a very few main battle tanks to have actually seen combat in the 21st century.
Copyright ©2020 by Richard Saucier. _OPINIONS Historicus Forma, KitMaker Network, or Silver Star Enterrpises. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Historicus Forma or Silver Star Enterprises. All rights reserved. Originally published on: 2014-05-29 20:18:48. Unique Reads: 11926