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Crusader Kit

Italeri 1/35 Crusader III AA Mk.III Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review February 2006 Manufacturer Italeri
Subject Crusader III AA Mk.III Scale 1/35
Kit Number 6444 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Subject previously available using resin aftermarket conversions Cons
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $36.00

First Look

Crusader Kit
Crusader Kit
Crusader Kit
Crusader Kit
Crusader Kit

The Crusader III AA Mk.III was an excellent example of British recycling during World War II. The Crusader tank was deemed obsolete fairly early in the war and a number of surviving hulls were converted into anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) escort tanks armed with a pair of 20mm guns to provide cover to British armor from Luftwaffe strafers.

The conversion mainly involved the replacement of the tank's turret with a new armored turret whose operator was still required to be exposed to aim the guns.

While Italeri has previously released the Crusader tank in this scale, I believe this is the first offering in styrene of the Crusader AA tank. The AA turret had been produced previously in resin by a few companies to modify the stock Crusader tank kit.

The kit is molded in olive green styrene and presented on three parts trees. Track is provided using silver-gray 'rubber band' vinyl.

The kit features working suspension, allowing for posing the model in various settings anytime you'd like. As you can see in the image, the lower hull has no holes, so the working suspension wasn't part of a motorized model version.

The exterior of the hull is nicely detailed with stowage boxes, brackets, external fuel tank, exhaust system, etc. The AMS modeler will have fun painting and weathering this one.

The gun turret is even more interesting. While the exterior also has nice details, the twin guns have breech details, ammo canisters, and a mount to see through the open turret top. This is supplemented with ammo storage, interior seating, a turret plinth and more for the eye to see when looking inside. I'm sure there is more detail inside that turret than provided in the kit, but kudos to Italeri for providing this interior and leaving some room for the AMS modeler to work!

Markings are included for:

  • Crusader AA, 7th AD, Normandy, June 1944, 'Skyraker'
  • Crusader AA, 43rd Wessex Div, Normandy, June 1944
  • Crusader AA, 1st AA Regt/1st Polish AD, Breda, Holland, October 1944

For those of us interested in air defense vehicles, this Crusader III AA Mk.III offering finally provides an affordable rendering of this unique vehicle. Straight out of the box, this offers lots of nice details and is still an easy build for the novice modeler.

My sincere thanks to Testors for this review sample!