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AS 90 MBT

Trumpeter 1/72 British AS 90 Self-Propelled Artillery

By John Kelly and Vic Russel Jr.

Date of Review March 2010 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject British AS 90 Self-Propelled Artillery Scale 1/72
Kit Number 7221 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Good detail, excellent decal sheet Cons Track fit and not enough track links
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $14.95

Background

In 1993, the British Army took delivery of its first AS 90 self-propelled gun which was designed to replace the M109 and Abbot S.P.G.  It is currently the only track self-propelled howitzer in the British Army.  It's combat debut was in Iraq in 2003.

The Kit

The kit has been reviewed on Cybermodeler and can be seen here.

Construction

Starting with the lower one piece hull, I began adding the individual road wheel arms. This is a nice feature, but care needs to be taken when assembling because after I finished putting on the arms, I had one road wheel up in the air. At this point, I assembled the drive sprocket and found that the locator pin is slightly off, which causes the teeth not to be in line with each other. This affects track assembly later on. You can either remove the pin and line up the teeth properly, or simply cut the teeth off.

AS-90 The tracks are beautifully molded and have very good detailing. However, each individual link has an ejector pin mark on it and several on the length section. These need to be filled with either putty or Mr. Surfacer 500. I began track assembly by adding the individual links to the drive sprocket and rear idler. This is where I encountered my first fit issue. The opening in the link is too narrow to receive the guide tooth. You need to either file the opening wider or reduce the width of the guide tooth. This needs to be done on all the tracks. I found it easier to file the opening by leaving it on the sprue. Take care when cutting the link from the sprue as it can be easily damaged.

After having wrapped the drive sprocket and idler, I then began putting tracks on the rest of the road wheels. I found that the assembled and tracked drive sprocket and idler extend too far out from the hull to line up with the road wheels. To correct this, I filed down the back of the axle until it they lined up with the center of the road wheels.

AS-90 The instructions have you install seven links on the drive sprocket and six on the idler, but this can be reduced by one link on each. However, this still does not give you enough track links to join the track completely. There will be a gap of about four links. I simply cut track D-1 in half and let the opening be in the middle, which is covered by the side skirts anyway.

The rest of the hull assembled without any issues. Next, I began assembly of the turret. The MG boxes Parts B-22 need to be mounted higher on the turret face than what the locators are at. If you don't, the left box will not sit flat because of a half round cylinder on that side of the turret. The boxes need to be mounted above this cylinder and level with each other. I then began assembly of the main gun.

The only problem I encountered was that the main gun rotor assembly for some reason sat at an angle on the face of the turret causing the gun to be not parallel with the hull. I added some .010 plastic shins behind the mantlet on the right side to correct this. At this point, I added all the smaller details and handed the model over to Vic to do the painting.

Painting

The model was base coated with Tamiya XF-65 Field Gray. A free hand camouflage pattern was airbrushed using XF-69 NATO Black. The tracks and wheels were painted XF-1 Flat Black and the metal part of the track and tools were painted X-10 Gun Metal. The wooden tools were painted with Testors Wood. The guide teeth were picked out in silver as well as the drive sprocket teeth. All the lights and mirrors were painted silver and clear orange was applied to one outside marker light on Parts B-13 and 14 as well as the flashing light on the turret roof.

AS-90 AS-90

The model was base coated with Testors Gloss and then given a wash of Flat Black to accent the details. The model was then dry brushed with Field Gray. At this point, the decals were applied to the model and while Trumpeter gives you a very comprehensive decal sheet, the instructions only show a side view of a green and black vehicle while showing a four view of a vehicle in Iraq.

Since we wanted a SFOR vehicle, this caused some problems since we were not sure what license numbers went with the divisions that are given on the sheet. We used Concord's Mini Color Series Rolling Steel which gives very good coverage of SFOR and IFOR vehicles and greatly aided decal placement. Unfortunately, the black Chevron and stencil silvered even with the gloss coat, while the rest of the decals went on without any problems.

AS-90 AS-90

We were very impressed by the amount of decals that Trumpeter gives you which includes division, license plates, even the white stripes that go on the gun mantlet.

Conclusions

This is a highly detailed and well molded model and despite some of the challenges in building that were encountered, this model is definitely worthy of your purchase. The tracks are well molded, the tools, while mostly molded on the vehicle, are well done. All the hatches can be opened and the decal sheet is very good, with numerous marking options. There is detailing as well on the inside of the hatches. I intend to build another one, but this time I will make it as an OPFOR vehicle at the British Army Training Unit Suffield, which is a green and sand camouflage pattern.

My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!

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