Takom’s release of the three main Chieftain variants (5,10 &11) have sparked a lot of interest and we have the Mk.5 up for review today before Andy Moore builds it. Adding to Clayton’s Mk.10 kit review we have already seen, this looks like an interesting kit for many modellers…
British MBT Chieftain Mk.5/P 2in1 (part 1)
Kit Number – 2027
Scale – 1/35th
Price - ¥7,470, £40.49, US$62.23, €55.86 from Hobbylink Japan
So, like the proverbial bus, you wait for ages then three turn up at once. The Chieftain has been high on modeller’s wish lists for a long time now. Previously the Tamiya release was the only game in town in terms of injection moulded offerings, and although a nice kit, it's getting pretty long in the tooth and we were overdue a modern tooling. Takom have come to the rescue and produced not one but three state of the art Chieftains, the Mk.10, Mk.11 and the M.5/5P we have here.
It all comes packaged in a reasonably large box adorned with great artwork of a Iranian Chieftain prowling through a Middle Eastern town, having apparently just knocked out the burning T-55 in the background. Inside we find eight main sprues along with the upper and lower hull and two part turret. An additional six sprues provide the rubber track pads, while the tracks themselves are already separate and supplied in a bag (all 200!). On top of this, we get a vinyl dust sleeve for the barrel, a couple of poly-caps, also for the barrel and a sheet of photo etch components. Enough talk, let’s have a closer look at the parts.
Sprue A (x2)
These two contain all the wheels and suspension components, together with a few other detail parts.
We jump strait to sprue C as there's no sprue B included (It may well come with the other releases, with parts specific to those). This one is mainly detail parts for the hull including the various fender mounted stowage boxes.
This contains the detail parts for the turret. You'll find the smoke dischargers, various hatches and a very nicely moulded commander's cupola.
Another jump to sprue F. This has the side skirts, tow cables and, most importantly, that big 120mm L11 main gun.
A small sprue with just a few parts for the turret stowage box and the mounts for the smoke dischargers.
Another small sprue, here we've got the parts for the large turret mounted IR projector along with the parts for the turret baskets.
This is the sprue for the clear parts. Some of these parts won't be required for the Mk.5 as they're specific to the other releases.
The main hull is made up from an upper and lower section. The upper hull is a fantastic piece of moulding with most of the detail in place. The lower hull by comparison could appear a little plain after the dazzle of the upper hull, but it's equally well moulded and the fit between the two is perfect.
Like the hull, the turret is a very well detailed moulding with a separate base. Takom have captured the complex shape of the Chieftain turret very well here. There's a very subtle cast texture to the turret which is probably about right for the scale. You may wish to replace the grab handles though, which have been moulded solid. Note the two parts that have been moulded inside the lower turret sprue. They're the rims for the idlers, don't throw them away by accident.
The dust sleeve for the main gun is provided as a vinyl part. This looks nicely wrinkled and should look great once painted. It also incorporates the coaxial machine gun and this may benefit from being replaced with a length of brass tube.
The individual track links are supplied in a bag and, apart from a small mould pip on one face, they're ready to go once the separately moulded track pads have been attached.
The PE sheet supplies the engine grills and mesh for the turret baskets, along with other small handles and brackets.
Now, lets have a closer look at the parts in detail. First up, the turret. The detail here is very nice. As mentioned above, the grab handles could be replaced but they're perfectly acceptable as they are. The wiring for the Smoke dischargers is also moulded on, but I can't see any point in replacing this. The effect is very realistic as it is. There's a small mould line on each side of the turret due to its slide moulded nature, but it will be a simple job to remove as it doesn't cross any details.
The fit between the upper and lower turret parts is very good, although a little filler will probably be needed along the join and some retexturing on the lower part will be needed to blend it in with the upper.
The detailing on the upper hull is beautifully done with some lovely little touches that came as a nice surprise.
The details around the drivers hatch are very nice, including the casting numbers.
The fuel filler caps are also very well reproduced complete with a cast “FUEL” partially visible under the clasp.
The engine deck is also well moulded with good depth to the slats. Of course, all this will be covered by the PE grills but it's good to see they haven't cut corners on the detail here.
The rubber mudguards on the front of the fenders have been moulded integrally. It would have been nice to see these moulded separately with a little more ripple in them, but you could try reshaping them or replace them with something more flexible. The retaining strips are supplied as PE parts.
The main gun has been moulded in two halves so some careful clean-up will be needed along the seam to avoid damaging the detail. The thermal cladding looks suitable padded and the clamps are nice and sharp. The muzzle is separate and made up from two parts. It doesn't include any rifling but, in truth, it would be hard to see anyway.
The hatches all have detail on the inner side and are designed to workable when fitted (now we just need someone to produce a suitable set of figures).
The searchlight is moulded as a single piece with its mounting bracket and there's quite a prominent mould line running around the part. It's probably going to be simpler to cut the light housing away from the bracket to make the whole thing easier to clean up.
The cupola mounted machine gun is well detailed but, unfortunately, the barrel had been damaged on mine. I've had delicate parts come damaged before with Takom kits and I think they should look at wrapping some of these parts in foam to provide additional protection while in the box.
The two tow cables are provided as moulded parts which will make construction easier and look fine as they are, but some modellers may wish to replace them with copper wire.
The side skirts, like the turret, feature solid moulded grab handles. These will look fine on the finished model and avoid the need for delicate, fiddly PE parts, but could be replaced should you wish to.
Takom have made a really nice job of the wheels and running gear. While the inner wheels are single piece mouldings, the outer ones are each made up from four parts, the main wheel with separate parts for the hub, rim and tyre. The tyres features some moulded code detail on the sidewall.
The tracks are nicely detailed and only require the small mould pip to be removed. These will need gluing as they aren't designed to be workable. It would have been nice if these could have been designed to be true clickable links, but at least the work of removing them from the sprue has already been done.
The instruction book is the usual Takom landscape style and well laid out with clear, 3D CAD style, illustrations. It's a surprisingly short build with just 22 steps, the last one reminding you to place the turret on the hull, in case you might have forgotten to do that.
The decal sheet's well printed and quite colourful. Most of the markings on here are for the Iranian examples. Everything's in register and the printing is sharp with good colour density.
And speaking of colour, we get no fewer than seven marking schemes supplied. Takom have continued their association with Mig Jimenez's AMMO Company who have provided the marking guide and paint call outs. Five of the schemes are for Middle Eastern tanks, four from Iran including a nice sand/brown parade day camo, and one example from Kuwait during Desert Storm. The final two options are for British Chieftains, one in sand/green from the BATUS range in Canada and the final one in the famous Berlin Brigade camo.
It's been a long time coming, but we've finally got a new Chieftain. In fact three new Chieftains, and from seeing the parts it looks like they're going to build into fantastic models. I know I can't wait to get started on mine.
British cold war era subjects have long been under represented by the big model companies but, thanks to Takom, it looks like that may be slowly starting to change. Lets hope they follow up these releases with further subjects of this type (is anyone up for a Stalwart?).
Stay tuned for part two, when I get going with the construction.
Thanks to Takom for sending this kit to us to review and build.