VCL Light Amphibious Tank A4E12 Late Production

Published on
June 7, 2016
Review Author(s)
Product / Stock #
Company: Riich Models
Provided by: Dragon Models USA - Website: Visit Site
Box Art

Not many of the Vickers A4E12 (late) amphibious tanks were produced and oddly enough only two were purchased by the UK from Vickers. In all, a total of 43 examples were produced with the largest number, 29 purchased by China in 1932. The Chinese A4E12s were used operationally through 1942 when they were turned over to the Army Mechanized School in Chengdu. The instruction history indicates this Vickers tank never saw any combat in China, but who is to say for sure. You may also notice a striking similarity between the A4E12 and the Russian T-33 light amphibious tank. Not so strange when you consider the Russians purchased eight examples from Vickers.

As far as the kit is concerned, Combat Armour Models (CAM) is a new company and appears to be associated with Riich models in some manner, but I am unsure of the details of the partnership. But not a problem, I was intrigued but this little oddity of a design so I decided to take a chance on a review build. I’m not going to bore you with a step by step build review of this kit but I will say that in a general way it builds up no different than any other armor model. In the case of this Vickers tank, the turret is assembled first, then the pontoons, running gear / road wheels, hull, and finishes with the length and link tracks.

My first quick look at the kit left me overall very impressed. After my build was completed, I found only a few small exceptions to my initial impression. The overall detail of the parts were very good with more flash that one would expect in a new kit. Removing the flash did NOT present any problems what so ever. One feature I liked in this kit is the fact the parts are attached to the sprue trees along the parts mating surface rather than the outside surface of the part. Unfortunately, this positive point turns negative when you see how the drive sprockets are attached to the sprues. (Photo below). The sprue gate pretty much obliterated the sprocket detail for one or two teeth at each attachment point. Pretty much, it is up to the builder to cut, sand and file the tooth/teeth back into existence. While I’m at it, I should also mention the plastic used in this kit Is without a doubt, the softest I’ve ever worked with. Normally my sprue nippers do a great job cutting parts closely from the sprue tree, but in the case of this kit you would be well advised cut the parts further out and gently remove the remaining sprue gate from the parts after the fact.

Photoetch is included in this kit and it too was on the soft side compared to the most photoetch I’ve worked with from other manufactures, but it is not a problem. I thought the soft metal made it easier to remove the parts from the sprues. The pliable parts then were very easy form around the drivers hatch pieces. One cool thing CAM does with its photoetch sheet, it to encase it between two clear sheets of adhesive plastic. Without a doubt, it keeps the small parts from going ‘ping’ and being lost to the carpet monster. An A+ for innovation in my book.

Another small negative check mark with the kit design was with the way the turret pieces, as well as the hull pieces mated with each other. CAM designed their parts to mate utilizing a beveled edge as opposed to a butt or overlapped joint. I think this worked well for the round turret, but made the hull assembly a bit of an un-necessary struggle.

I followed the instructions for assembly of the bogies, however I decided NOT to cement them or the drive sprockets to the hull. The parts fit just snug enough to allow them to be removed after the track assembly making painting an much easier chore. In hindsight, I made the correct decision. The length and length tracks assembled reasonably well. Each side is made of 15 small pieces and five larger lengths for the top and bottom runs. It took a bit of effort to get the smaller parts to sit correctly on the drive sprocket but in the end I triumphed. I don’t recall on which side but I found it necessary to cut off two links to get the sag and look the same on both sides.

I know some of you will want to know, so to answer your question… Yes, the turret hatch can be posed in either the open or close position. CAM does include in the way of interior detail the firing handles for the turret mounted 7.7mm machine gun, a seat for the commander and a seat and seat rail for the driver. I’m not sure this by itself would be enough to pass the AMPS judging scrutiny, but with a little scratch built detail the interior should suffice. The way the drivers hatch operated, it was supported on the right side by a single pivot hinge and swings to the right for crew access. The way the kit is designed, it may take a little work on the part of builder to represent the model the hatch open. I don’t believe out of the box you would be able to support the weight of the hatch with the kit hinge. But I could be wrong.

I’m not sure I have addressed the issue of fit per say, so let us tackle that question right now. I was happy with the overall fit of this kit. That’s not to say here were a few small flaws, but I was impressed never the less. One small detail that confused me was the absence of clear lenses for the lights. The light housings look like they were made for a lens, but none are provided. I’m sure a bit of PVA glue will fix that issue.

CAM provide a guide for three different paint schemes with in kit. The three schemes are well represented in colour in the thick glossy instruction guide. In this day and age there is no excuses for not including a colour guide. Kudo’s to CAM for going the extra few steps to do so. CAM calls out the colors via the GSI Creos Mr. Hobby color acrylic and Mr. Color paint lines. I didn’t have the base colors on hand so I option pitched to four other Mr. Color paints in the same ball park.

The three kit options are as follows;

  • Second Tank Company (Dragon Company) Armour Regiment, Nanking Capital City 1937 (options for a tank from the HQ, 1st, 2nd and 3rd platoons are included.)
  • Instructional vehicle, Military Academy, Chengdu Sze Chuen Province 1941
  • Instructional vehicle, Army Mechanized School, Chengdu, Sze Chuen Province 1942.

As you can see by the box art and my finished model the paint scheme is a four toned crazy one. The first option (2nd Tank Company) goes a step farther by including a black demarcation line between all the color patches. No thanks, I’ll pass on an extra week or two of hand painting fine lines. I choose for the review the second option. I utilized a product called “Panzer Putty” to mask the vehicle. I’ve used it in the past on other models and after a bit of trial and error you kind of get the hang of its use. I was pretty pleased on how the paint scheme turned out. If a crazy four color scheme is not your cup of tea, with a bit a research you could probably do something from one of the four other countries that had this tank in their inventory. (UK, Russia, Siam or the Dutch East Indies) Something tells me the UK and Russian schemes were most likely one color, probably green. But do your research.

Did I enjoy building this kit and would I build this kit again. Yes on both counts.

I want to thank CAMs / Riich for producing the kit, Dragon USA for providing it to the IPMS USA. Lastly I would like to thank the IPMS USA for allowing me build and review the kit.


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