by: KiwiDave [ ]
The Centurion is a significant post WW II tank. It established some standards for western tank designs, was produced in larger numbers than any other British tank, exported to a number of countries, saw service in the Korean and Viet Nam conflicts, and formed the basis of the IDF Sh'ot and the South African Oliphant as well as a number of AVRE/BARV/ Specialised vehicles.Given a history like the Centurion enjoyed, one would expect it to be a popular subject in 1:35th scale, but the only mass produced injection moulded example is the Tamiya offering.
The kit represents a very early (pre-1950) Mk III. The kit dates from the 1970's and represents a period when Tamiya appeared unable to decide if they were a model maker or toy maker. The kit was originally motorized and because of this little extra was put into the model by way of fine detailing - what is present crude compared to model kits today.However, the basic outline, dimensions and major details are accurate and therefore it is possible to create a very acceptable MkIII from this kit. Unfortunaley, Tamiya retailing this model kit at prices comparable to their new offerings masks the fact that this is an old kit. Be aware!
First impressions are of a simple model with few 'fiddly bits'. Closer inspection shows serious lack of register on some sprues indicating worn out dies. Locator pins/holes for such detail as exists are oversize, general fit of parts is poor and the side skirts are located by a clip system to facilitate the motorization - and not enhance accuracy.My example had a warped lower hull section.First step was deleting unusable parts such as fire extinguishers, smoke generator brackets, tow ropes, and then removing the moulded on pioneer tools and side skirt brackets.Assembly proceeded with much time being spent making parts fit properly, and then adding detail.The barrel was reinforced with brass tube, the locator pins removed and the out of round halves turned true.The crude engineering of the model kit helped in so much as the total number of parts was minimal, therefore reducing the amount of work necessary.I spent over 150 hours labouring to bring up the level of detail on this Centurion, with much of that being spent in scratchbuilding efforts. For instance I replicated the fire extinguisher brackets in aluminium (four parts each), and the extinguishers in styrene (three parts each), and made pioneer tool clips as per original, again using aluminium.
I chose to build the Centurion as an early MkIII. This is because it requires major surgery to make a later Mk.;- typically a later Mk would require a new turret roof, barrel, mantlet, engine covers, pannier stowage boxes, and rear hull.As it was I added 80 new or replacement parts to the turret alone to achieve my MkIII.The end result is a satisfactory representation of this significant British tank.
Given that Tamiya are able to keep re-releasing this sad example of the model makers art and still sell more than they make shows there is a very real case for them to do the decent thing and release a properly tooled model of a Centurion. The Cent' had a long evolutionary career and it would be a simple matter to produce a basic kit with upgrades to different Marks.For example: with IDF modelling very popular genre, a Sh'ot option would make sense, and might sell well.While every plastic model kit maker produces at least one of every German WW II machine built or even just thought about, this pathetic attempt is still the only available Centurion kit for 35th scale modelers.
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Copyright ©2020 text by KiwiDave [ ]. 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.
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