AFV Club 1/35 M730 Chaparral Build Review
|Date of Review||January 2016||Manufacturer||AFV Club|
|Kit Number||35002||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Unique subject||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Intermediate||MSRP (USD)||$42.98|
In the late 1950s, the US Army Missile Command (MICOM) started development of the Forward Area Air Defense (FAAD) system which would provide a protective umbrella of protection for US forces operating near or in-contact with enemy incursions into NATO. The first version of the FAAD paired the M42 Duster with a new Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) system based upon the MIM-46 Mauler loaded in launch canisters atop a modified M113 armored personnel carrier. Development problems with the Mauler led MICOM to consider FAAD 2.0 which paired the M163 Vulcan with a ground-launched AIM-9D Sidewinder (designated MIM-72 in Army service).
While the M163 was based upon a modified M113, the M730 Chaparral would be mounted atop the truck bed of a modified M548 tracked cargo carrier (which in turn was based on the M113). The MIM-72 was an AIM-9 missile body which was recognizable by the deletion of two of the rollerons on the tail to save weight. Like the USAF/USN Sidewinders, the seeker heads evolved to improve performance during its nearly 30 years of service.
AFV Club has reissued several of their early kits including this M730 Chaparral and the M548 Tracked Cargo Carrier which I built nearly ten years ago. I don't remember why I never got around to the Chap back then, but here it is once again. This was one of AFV Club's first kits and like most kit companies first starting out, early kits tend to have their challenges. In this case, as well as the M548 kit, the challenges were few and minor. If you simply test-fit parts before gluing them into place, you won't have any real issues. When I built the M548, I had to pay attention to the ejector pin marks as some would interfere with parts fit. Ten years later, the ejector pin marks are still there and in addition you'll find some mold flash here and there that will need clean-up with a file.
I followed the instructions in the kit and almost built this kit straight out of the box. Looking in the cab, I didn't like the perfectly flat driver's seat and crew bench seat, so I put a drum sander into my Dremel and added 'butt impressions' into the seats to make them look more used. As the cab came together, I decided to follow a pre-shading paint technique, so after several parts were installed, I'd stop and paint the bare plastic of the subassemblies with Vallejo UK Bronze Green primer which is much darker than the NATO Green base coat I'd be using for the vehicle's camouflage. The cab interior would remain Bronze Green for contrast.
The driver's instrument panel looks fine but the kit doesn't provide any instrument faces for the speedometer and engine gauges. I used a punch to extract instrument faces from a 1/32 AirScale instrument face decal sheet and put these into place. The kit decal sheet does provide placard-looking decals for the driver's door and throttle quadrant, but these were replaced by Mike Grant 1/32 placards which look much better. I added a drop of watch crystal cement over each instrument face to simulate glass. The cement doesn't harm the decals and cleans up just like 5-minute epoxy (which I used to use to simulate instrument glass) but without the mixing.
Assembly of the rest of the model was according to instructions and painting UK Bronze Green primer to ensure there were no bare plastic surfaces when everything was assembled. When I got to the M48 launcher, I painted the console faces black and dry-brushed the details out. The FLIR scope and remote radar indicator faces were painted Mig Polished Silver (acrylic) followed by Tamiya Clear Green or Clear Orange.
When I reached the Sidewinder launch rails, it was time to work on another problem. The kit's so-called 'rails' were poles onto which the Sidewinders were to be glued. Like the air-launched AIM-9, the MIM-70 was mounted to a rail and this pole wasn't going to work for me. I found a piece of Plastruct I-beam that fitted over the kit's beam and the kit's Sidewinders fit perfectly. I filed the outer edge of the beam flat and then glued the Plastruct I-beam onto each of the four beams. Now we have launch rails! I decided to mount only two of the Sidewinders to show off the rails.
I kept the M48 launcher separate as well as the two Sidewinders so I could paint them off of the M730 vehicle. I dug out the Army's NATO camouflage diagram for the M730 and applied Vallejo NATO Green primer, Black primer, and Tamiya NATO Brown. I took care not to paint into recesses that would remain in the shadows so they'd retain the UK Bronze Green shadow color. The M48 was painted the same way based on the Army diagram. The Sidewinders were both painted Vallejo Olive Drab primer with black heads and red motor covers. The model was given a protective coat of Future and set aside overnight to dry.
One of the reasons I wanted to push this project ahead of many others was to have an 'expendable' test for some of the weathering products we've received. So early one morning after completing the camouflage, I decided to apply the textured soil produced by Mig Jimenez and since I was still on my first cup of coffee, I was working to one of the online notes that these textured products could be applied by airbrush. Wrong. I fouled up two different airbrushes while trying two different textured products and the textures suspended in the paint do indeed foul airbrush nozzles.
After clearing both airbrushes and finishing my second cup of coffee, one of my brain's neurons finally awoke and reminded me that there was a how-to video that showed how to apply this stuff with an airbrush. Dip a big paint brush into the color and blow your airbrush through the paint brush and onto the model. That worked much better. I also tried using a wide brush to apply the textured soils onto the model and that also works well.
I also used the NATO camouflage filter and that dulls down the contrast of the fresh camouflage. Over that were rain effects and dust as well as pin washes to bring out molded-in details. I'm certain I could have gone further with the various weathering effects, but my objective was met. Using acrylics for camouflage and protected by Future allows the various enamel and acrylic weathering products to be worked, removed, reapplied, and fine-tuned on the model without harming the underlying work.
While this project took longer to build than planned because of the flash and fit, it was still a fun build and I'm pleased with the outcome.