Mirage 1/72 Grant Mk.I Build Review
By Bill Kruger
|Date of Review||May 2005||Manufacturer||Mirage|
|Kit Number||72805||Primary Media||Styrene, Photo-Etch, White Metal|
|Pros||Nicely detailed kit||Cons||Rubber band track|
|Skill Level||Intermediate||MSRP (USD)||$16.98|
The US-made Grant and Lee tanks made up the main tank forces of the US Army, though as war approached, the Army sought more modern designs which culminated into the Sherman and Stuart tank families.
In the meantime, the Soviets and British were in need of war material to hold off the advancing German Wehrmacht. The US responded with the Lend-Lease program in which tanks, aircraft and other needed supplies were shipped over to the war. The British used the Grant tanks in North Africa to support General Montgomery's efforts against the Afrika Korps.
For a look at the kit out of the box, see the Cybermodeler Online review here.
The kit features a 6-page instruction sheet that takes you through 14 steps. Included in the instructions are markings for several different Grant tanks used by Commonwealth forces, presumably in the African desert. What is nice about those illustrations is the fact that there are references provided so that one can actually go to the source to verify the paint scheme. As a librarian by profession, I think this is a nice touch. I wish other model manufacturers would follow suit.
A shortcoming with the instructions, however, is that some things that are illustrated as being important are not clearly spelled out or illustrated. A case in point is in step 1. The instructions show a magnified illustration of one side of the tank’s hull. The illustration shows two intersecting lines and the English words “Correct fit!” There are no other clues as to what you are supposed to do. “Cuthere for correct fit” would have been nice, or something similarly phrased. I went ahead and dry fit all the parts for one side of the tank and everything seemed to fit well, so I still have no clue why the illustration is included. Other shortcomings are with the illustrations provided for the photo-etch parts, especially that dealing with the side doors.
For the most part, I found the construction of the tank pretty straight forward. There is about the same amount of detail in this 1/72 scale kit as there is in a larger 1/35 scale kit. Because of that, be aware that some parts are extremely tiny and may provide some difficulty if you are not used to this scale.
There were places where I experienced a few fit problems. The first area was the fitting of the upper hull to the lower hull. It seemed like the front of the upper hull did not completely match up with the front of the lower hull. There was a small gap there that had to be filled. The same was true with the sides of the upper hull. I had to use a filler all around to hide the seams of the hull sides after they were attached.
I used the photo-etched parts that were provided on one of the side doors that I left open. You have the option of leaving the doors open or closed, although there is not much of an interior to view. A separate illustration shows you how to attach the photo-etch parts to the door interior. I am not much of a photo-etch modeler, but I must say that it improves the overall look of the door. I left this open to partially show off this work.
Other photo-etch parts that I used included the headlight guards and the engine grill on the back of the hull. Again, you have the option of not using these parts, but the photo-etch parts really do help make the model look more realistic. You do have to bend the lamp guards before attaching to the model. I used a rat-tail file to do the bending and they both came out nice.
I had a fit problem with one of the photo-etch headlight guards. The headlamps are placed on the front fenders, one on each side. There are holes provided for the lamps in the fenders. The right side went together quite well and I was pleased with how it turned out. However, I knew I would be having problems on the left side when I saw there was very little room for the placement of the lamp guard. This is because the hull top is right there and partially interferes with the correct placement. I had to make a creative adjustment and the guard on the left does not match the placement on the right.
There was a problem with the cupola mounted machine gun. This machine gun is provided in white metal, along with the ammo magazine and stanchion. My kit was missing the stanchion, so I had to fabricate one from other parts I had laying around. The instructions show you mounting the gun to the cupola hatch ring. However, there is no hole provided for the stanchion to fit into. I drilled a hole with my hobby drill in about the proper location.
The only other fit problem I had was with the fender skirts. In the final step, you attach the rubber band treads (which went together quite nicely) and then attach the skirts to the fenders. I had a little bit of a problem getting the skirts to slide into place, between the treads and the fender. After this was done, the front of the skirts would not fit correctly to the front of the fenders. The left side was worse than the right. I got to where I had the skirts as close as they were going to be and then fastened them with superglue. When they were dry, I had to fill in the gaps so they would look half-way decent.
The decals for the kit are provided on two different decal sheets, all match various examples provided in the instructions. The instructions show you clearly where to place the decal markings. I wanted to do my kit like the one shown on the box art, with the “ Montgomery” markings. Those are provided as two separate decals that read “Monty.” As I was in the process of applying the first of these markings to the turret, it fell apart. In trying to get the decal back together, I ended up making it worse, so I had to leave one side of the turret without the “Monty” logo. Additionally, for this particular tank, you are provided with the number ‘4’ that is placed on three sides of the turret. Again, I had one of these numerals partially fall apart as I was putting it into place. I was better able to rescue it, so that one of my numerals looks a bit worn. Chalk it up to battle damage and wear.
I painted the tank using Model Master acrylics, Sand, Olive Green, and Black. Following the camouflage pattern that was provided in the instructions, I think my model came out looking very nice and ready for battle. I dry-brushed using a lighter color to bring out the excellent detail provided in the kit.
Other than the difficulties I have listed above, the model was a very nice build. There are places you can work through quickly and others where you will definitely want to take your time. I think that Mirage is to be congratulated for providing an example of an important piece of armor. As I indicated earlier, the detail of the kit is outstanding. I would recommend the kit to those who have some experience in building small scale armor, or to those who are intermediate level modelers.
My sincere thanks to Squadron Mail Order for this review sample!