The recent rerelease of Airfix’s catalogue of 1/76 AFVs has generated a little bit of a buzz among Airfix fans, many of whom grew up building these little gems as lads. Now, as adults, they get to harken back on the days of yore with the reboxing of these little beauties. I myself never had much of an opportunity to build Airfix kits in my youth, but have taken to them as an adult. Whether it’s a fiddly older kit, or one of the new-tool ones in the shiny red boxes, getting back into the hobby later in life also meant finding some great new, and OLD, kits to build.
These “Vintage Classic” releases from Airfix, fit both categories. They’re old molds repackaged into the new box with newly printed decals, and most important of all, new tracks. The kits come packaged in the now familiar side-opening red box, but feature the artwork on the original packaging. In the case of the Mark VII, the artwork shows the infantry tank doing what it was designed to do, leading a group of infantrymen into a town, firing away at an unseen enemy while taking the brunt of the return fire.
Inside the box, are 2 small sprues of olive green plastic, some rubber tracks, and a small sheet of decals. The four-page instruction manual lays out building the tank over 11 simple steps. Well, maybe 9 simple steps as we’ll discuss later. The plastic feels vintage, but is relatively flash free. The tracks are molded in a nice thin rubber, that is years ahead of whatever material Airfix tracks were originally made with. These ones are flexible, and fairly well detailed. Considering the majority of the tracks are completely hidden from sight on the Churchill, they’ll do just fine.
As I mentioned before, the build steps are pretty straight forward. You start with the roadwheels, all 22 of them. I choose to add the wheels to the shocks while the shocks were still attached to the sprue. This kept the number of moving parts to a minimum and gave me a third hand to work with. Once assembled, you attach 11 sets of wheels to each side. This was the easy part, the hard parts come in Step 4 and 5 where you get to add the tracks over the road wheels, idler wheel and drive sprocket, then attach the inside portion of the side sponson to each piece. The issue here, is that each wheel assembly, all 11 of them, has to line up perfectly with the corresponding hole on the inside wall of the sponson. After a considerable amount of fiddling, cursing, and a small amount of drilling, I managed to get both sides connected. From there, the build is quick and easy. For its age, the kit fit together really well, and I only needed to use a little filler around the front of the turret, but that may have been as much my fault as the kit’s.
Painting and decal instructions are provided on the back of the box, and as usual with Airfix kits, the color call outs are in Humbrol. For those of us without easy access to Humbrol paints, or a strong knowledge of their color numbering system, you paint the whole tank Olive Drab. The decals provided work great.
Overall, the kit was fun to build. Does it lack some details found on a Mark VII? Yes, but the end product looks like a Churchill and it goes together quickly. I wish I had more access to these kits as a kid, because I think I would have built the whole line of them. I recommend this kit for any modeler of any age, or experience. At less than $8 list price, these kits would make great starters for any new modelers or anyone with vast experience looking to scratch-build a lot of extra details.
My thanks to Hornby USA and IPMS/USA for this review kit.