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A39 Tortoise

Meng 1/35 A39 Tortoise Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review September 2012 Manufacturer Meng
Subject A39 Tortoise Scale 1/35
Kit Number TS002 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Interesting subject Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $69.95

First Look


During World War II, British military planners recognized that once a foothold was gained on the European continent, the advancing allied armies would likely be facing heavy bunkers that would be able to withstand direct and indirect fires from existing weapons. These planners decided to develop an armored assault gun with sufficient firepower to overcome these prepared defenses with minimum casualties. Taking a page out of the German playbook, the British took their high-powered QF-32 3.75 inch (95.25mm) anti-aircraft gun and turn it into the primary weapon on this vehicle. The projectile was a 32 pound armor-piercing shot that was effective against the German Panther's armor at 1000 yards.

The vehicle was a specially designed chassis powered by the Rolls Royce Meteor V12 engine rated at 600 horsepower. It was one of 18 designs that were submitted before one was selected for production in early 1944. The contract was for 25 vehicles to be delivered by September 1945 though the war was over in both theaters by that time. Had the war continued for whatever reason, the A39 would have been a formidable cat hunter as it would be able to knock out Panthers and Tigers with ease, the kinetic energy of the 32 pound round would have been very effective while the high explosive would give the British crew a visual confirmation that another cat had lost all nine lives.

Meng is a model company based in Hong Kong, China and has released another new kit in their growing line-up. This is a completely new-tool A39 Tortoise and when I opened the box, I initially thought that there had been a mistake and this was a 1/25 scale kit. This is a nice model of a huge subject.

The kit is molded in dark green styrene and presented on a 6 parts trees plus two hull parts (duplicate parts trees not shown in images to right). Three additional parts trees molded in brown styrene provide individual track links and one nice thing about a subject this large, the track links are also larger and will be easier to assemble.

Unlike some of the kits that have been released of 'paper designs' or projects that never went beyond the prototype stage, six of these beasts were completed after the war and were put through their paces. One survives at Bovington Armour Museum while another has been used as a gunnery target beyond the point of restoration.

The main gun can be articulated as can be the hull-mounted machine gun. Crew hatches are positionable but you're on your own for an interior (or stuff the hatch opening with a crew figure).

This is another interesting kit by Meng Models and will fill another hole in the armor line-up. The detailing is quite nice and will look even more impressive with some suitable aftermarket resin crew figures manning the vehicle.

My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!