AFV Club 1/35 Centurion Mk.5/2 Kit First Look
|Date of Review||February 2007||Manufacturer||AFV Club|
|Kit Number||35122||Primary Media||Styrene, photo-etch, aluminum barrel, rubber tires|
|Pros||Nicely detailed kit,||Cons|
|Skill Level||Intermediate||MSRP (USD)||$44.95|
The Centurion was designed from top to bottom from combat lessons learned from the employment of earlier designs like Comet against the German Panzer forces. Arriving on the continent too late for combat at the end of World War II, the Centurion served as the tip of the spear with the British Army as well as with Commonwealth and many NATO armies.
When the Korean War erupted some five years later, the Centurion out-performed the tanks fielded at the time by the US as well as the USSR. The Soviets were mindful of the lethality of the Centurion from that combat experience as they knew they'd face many more Centurions guarding the 'Iron Curtain'.
The Mk.5 was an incremental improvement over earlier Marks, with the most noteworthy update being the 105mm L7 main gun. This would become the standard main gun for western tank designs until the arrival of the Rheinmetall L44 120mm gun used on Leopard II and the M1A1/2 Abrams.
The Centurion was powered by the Rolls Royce Meteor engine, which was a derivative of the famous Merlin that powered the majority of the WWII Royal Air Force. The Meteor was rated at 650 horsepower and could move the Centurion at about 20 mph.
The nicest Centurion model ever produced is still Tamiya's 1/25 kit with the full interior, and while they also offered the only real option for the subject in 1/35 scale, it didn't have the same level of detail as it's larger cousin. When AFV Club released the Centurion Mk.I, I was impressed with the kit! From an exterior detail point of view, it offered state of the art engineering and molding technology which translates into more detail compared to the 20+ year old Tamiya kits.
Molded in olive drab styrene, the kit is presented on seven parts trees. In addition to the styrene parts, a set of metal springs are included for the working suspension, a turned aluminum barrel, and a fret of photo-etch details.
As with most of the contemporary kit releases, the lower hull has no holes in the bottom for motorization. Construction starts with the suspension units, six of which are built-up and mounted to the lower hull. While there is a small bag of individual track links in the kit to mount on the hull as spares, the tracks are the rubberband style that are simple to work. If you have your heart set on individual track links for your track, Fruil and others offer aftermarket sets for your enjoyment.
I'm rather impressed with the detailing on the engine deck, right down to the tiny lift handles on the access panels. These are delicate parts that will require care in removing from the sprue trees and installation.
The fenders are separately molded and also offer some very nice detailing. The kit provides a complete set of pioneering tools.
The turret is also nicely detailed. The only thing missing is the canvas mantlet cover which is offered separately cast in resin.
The L7 gun is turned aluminum with the bore extractor molded in styrene halves to mount over the barrel. The result is quite nice with only the bore extractor needing any attention for seam lines.
The kit provides markings for five examples:
- Royal Netherlands Army
- Royal Danish Army x 2
- British Army x 2
While I thought the Mk.I release was nice, I was waiting patiently for the Mk.5 to hit the streets. The wait was worth it! I am hoping now that we'll see either a production version of the re-engined Mk.5 in Israeli service released or an aftermarket conversion to this kit. Either way, I see two Centurions in my future, one for the British Army in Berlin, the second in Israeli service.