Recently Andy Moore has taken on the Takom Whippet tank from the WWI era here on TMN – Well he wanted to look at how Meng’s new version of the same tank fared so here is his review - having examined both kits we were interested to know what he thought…
Build Review Pt. I
Mk.A Whippet Medium Tank
Mk.A Whippet Medium Tank
Kit no. #TS021
RRP ¥3,871/ USD $31.49/ €29.39 (on Sale) from HobbylinkJapan
The centenary of the First World War has really ignited the market for models from that conflict, and we've been treated to some fantastic kits over the last couple of years. Meng got in on the act early, with their little FT-17, and now they're adding to the range with the newly released Mk.V and the Whippet we have here. This, of course, is the second Whippet to come out in recent months, so let’s see how this one stands up to the opposition.
First impressions are good with the kit arriving in a sturdy, satin finish, box with great artwork adorning the lid. I know a box is just a box, but Meng always seem to take great care with the presentation of their kits, and from past experience, that's always reflected in the box contents too.
But, before moving on to those contents, it's interesting to note that the box prominently features the logo of the Tank Museum at Bovington in the UK, and indicates that the museum was involved with the production of the kit, with Meng taking their measurements directly from the Whippet on display at the museum. It's great to see this kind of co-operation between manufactures and the people who work with these vehicles on a daily basis, and should make for more accurate models.
So, moving on to those contents, we get ten sprues in total, seven in a sand coloured styrene and three in black, and a single part moulding for the main hull. Apart from the instruction manual and decal sheet, the only other addition is a length of thread for the tow cable. There's no PE here, as this is a fairly basic, albeit very detailed, kit.
This has the floor plate and the various panels that make up the crew cab. The plastic has a very nice satin finish that should take primer and paint very well.
Meng have taken an unusual approach with some of the hull panels. Rather than moulding them as individual pieces, they've been done as a single section which needs to be bent along pre-scored grooves to make up the angles of the cab walls. This is quite a clever idea, as it saves the worry of getting separate panels to correctly align.
One area where the lack of PE might have been noticeable is on the track guard struts. On the real tank, these were thin angle brackets, which could look too chunky when moulded in styrene. Meng have got round the potential problem by chamfering the edges of the parts to create a thinner appearance.
This one holds the outer track frames, the exhaust pipes and a few smaller hull plates and hatches. All the cover plates and rivets have been accurately reproduced.
I do like the fact that Meng have tooled the exhaust pipes complete with their hull mounting plates. Doing it that way allows the back of the mounting plate to be open, giving the impression of the exhaust pipe extending into the hull.
Just four parts here. The two inner track frames and the two, single piece, mud chutes. Having those mud chutes as single part mouldings should make construction much simpler and faster. The track frames have the axles moulded in place, so the wheels can simply be slid into place.
Sprue D (x2)
These two sprues have all the running gear and the remaining detail parts for the hull. Along with the wheels, idlers and sprockets, you also get the drive chains. I'm not sure why Meng have bothered to include these, as they're completely hidden once installed, but they're very nicely detailed all the same.
The track tension adjusters have been moulded as separate pieces which even include the small section of the bolt visible behind the retaining nut for the idler. There's no threading on the bolt, but that's not a huge issue, as the threading on the real bolts was quite fine, and wouldn't be too noticeable in this scale.
The cable hooks that attach to the track frames are very fine mouldings that will need some care when removing them from the sprue. I do prefer these to the PE ones that Takom provided in their kit, which needed to be twisted to form the hook shape and were too flat in profile.
Sprue K (x2)
These two, small sprues provide the Whippet's teeth, in the shape of four .303 Hotchkiss machine guns, together with their ball mounts. You even get ammo belts for the guns, although they wouldn't be visible if they were added.
Sprue P (x3)
The last three sprues are for the track links. These are fully working, click-able single piece links. They will need removing from the sprues and some resultant clean up, but look fine once assembled.
The main hull and engine compartment comes as a single piece, which will save a lot of time, and ensure everything is square. Meng have managed to get everything clean and sharp on this piece, with no seam lines or flash, which is unusual for a slide moulded part of this size.
Lastly we get a length of string to make the tow cables, with the towing eyes provided on the main sprues. Brass wire would have been nicer, but it's an easy enough thing to replace, should you wish.
Meng's instruction manuals are always well laid out and printed on good quality paper, and this one's no exception. The build runs over 16 steps with clear line drawings and colour call-outs for detail parts. The colours listed are for Vallejo paints.
You get two marking options shown in the instructions, for FIREFLY and CAESAR II, both of which are preserved examples. The decal sheet, however, includes markings for additional Whippets including Soviet and German examples, but you're left to research these yourself.
More details of these additional examples can be found in the Osprey New Vanguard Titles; 207 Medium Mk.A Whippet (ISBN 978 1 78200 398 4) and 83 Armored Units of the Russian Civil War (ISBN 1 84176 544 9)
Meng have done a great job of making a kit that should be fast and fun to build. Neat features like the folding hull panels and the pre-attached axles will speed up assembly, and the lack of fiddly photo etch parts will make this a kit that can be tackled by anyone, whatever their experience level. This certainly seems to be on a par with Takom's release, in terms of accuracy and detail, but you can't ignore the great value that this kit represents, coming in substantially cheaper than its rival. If you're looking for a quick, easy build, where you can concentrate on the painting and weathering, this come highly recommended.
More on Meng’s kits can be seen on their website or keep an eye out here on TMN