Thursday, December 3

Build review Pt II – Meng’s 1/35th scale Mk.I Whippet Medium Tank

Recently Andy Moore has reviewed the MENG Whippet tank from the WWI era – but an in-box review is never as good as putting together the real thing. Now he has recorded PT.II of his build before he paints and weathers the kit in Pt.III – Let’s see if he has changed his mind after building the kit…

Build Review Pt. II
Mk.A Whippet Medium Tank
Meng Models
Kit no. #TS021
1/35th scale
RRP ¥3,871/ USD $31.49/ €29.39 (on Sale) from Hobbylink Japan

In-Boxed: Andy's review of MENG's 35th scale Mk.A Whippet Medium ...
Witness the final wash-up as Andy whips up MENGS Whippett...
PT I of his review saw Andy talking us through what’s in the box and maybe what to expect. He has already built and painted the Takom Whippet so we were very keen to see how this MENG version stacked up.
From the box, Meng's new Whippet looked like it would make for a fast and fun build. In part 2 we'll see if that's how it turned out. 
Unusually for an AFV model, construction doesn't begin with the running gear. Instead, we start by getting a few parts onto the rear of the main hull. Nothing complex here and everything fits perfectly with the minimum of fuss.
The next step is to build up the crew cab, starting with the rear panels which need to be bent along pre-scored grooves to make the correct angles for the cab walls. The parts bend fairly easily, but be careful not to over bend them, or flex them back and forth too much, or the parts may snap.
The instructions would then have you attach the side panels to the rear panel, but this seemed a risky method. If the angles of the panels weren't perfectly square as the glue dried, the cab would never sit correctly on the hull.
Rather than do it that way, I found the easiest method was to attach the side panels to the roof section, which guaranteed that the angles would be correct. The fit so far was excellent, and a test fit to the main hull showed that everything was correctly aligned.
I then added the remaining panels to make up the front section of the cab. There are quite a few small panels here that all need to line up with one another, and although the fit was still generally good, I did end up with a few gaps here and there, particularly on the forward, angled part of the roof. This could simply be down to me getting one or other of the panels slightly miss-aligned, so take extra time when assembling this section.
Once in place on the main hull, though, the cab fitted well, and any gaps were quickly filled with a smear of Gunze dissolved putty. Up to this point, construction had only taken about 90 minutes, so it was certainly proving to be a fast build.
The forward fuel tank is another sub-assembly that's made up of folded panels. The two sides are joined together by a couple of rods which help keep everything rigid, then the folded upper and lower panels drop into place. I found it best to bend the two panels to a slightly tighter angle than required which meant when they were attached, they didn't have a tendency to lift up from the side panels as the glue dried.
The fuel tank is finished off with the two track guard brackets. These could have looked too thick in styrene but, as Meng has chamfered the edge of the parts to thin them down, they actually look fine and are certainly more robust than PE. The tank was left separate to make painting easier.
Although the instructions would have you add the machine guns and other details at this stage, this seemed like a recipe for broken parts and profanity. Instead, I moved on to the running gear. You need to make up 32 pairs of road wheels, along with the return rollers, idlers, and sprockets. It's not worth expending too much time and effort on cleaning up the wheels as they're invisible once installed. In fact, when I came to fit them, I left some off, only fitting enough to give the tracks an even base to sit on. The drive chains could also be left off, although in this case I did fit them.
I deviated from the instructions again by attaching the inner track frame to the hull, rather than building up the whole track assembly separately. That way I would have a straight, rigid base to build the rest of the track assembly on to.
With the glue set on the track frames, I added the single piece mud chutes. This is a really nice feature from Meng, avoiding the need to make the chutes up from multiple panels. Construction was flying along now, with everything up to this point being done over two evenings.
Time to slot all those wheels into place. Enjoy them while you can, as this will be the last time you see them (actually, I tell a lie. If you get down on your knees and peer up into the mud chutes, you might just get a glimpse of a return roller; exciting stuff). You can leave the wheels to rotate if you wish, but there isn't much point, and gluing them will make the whole track assembly far stronger.
The exhaust pipes are very nicely detailed and the only modification I made was to drill out the ends. I'll leave these separate for painting as I want to add some chipping effects and that'll be easier to do if they're not attached.
With the outer track frames in place, all the remaining details were added. The Whippet does get quite delicate at this stage, so careful handling is required, particularly around the very fragile tow rope hooks on the track frames.
The tracks are the last things to do and they turned out to be the longest job of the build, simply because they need to be removed from their sprues and have the three connection points cleaned up. Not that arduous, but it certainly slowed the pace down compared to the rest of the build. Some care needs to be taken when clipping the links together as the small dimple that locks the links together can easily be knocked off if too much force is used. I found the easiest method was to angle the links and click one side into place first, then gently push the other end together.
Despite taking care, I still had a few links that broke. Fortunately, there are quite a few spares and eventually I got the two runs together. The instructions show 68 links per run but a test fit showed that this was a little tight. The two ends met, but there was very little give to enable the ends to clip together. I decided to add an extra link to each run to give me a bit of wiggle room, should it be needed. The extra links can easily be removed if they're not needed.
Meng has supplied a set of track spuds with the kit. These were bolted to the tracks to provide extra grip in muddy conditions. I added some wood grain to the blocks, along with a few knocks and chips. Unlike the spuds included with Takom's release, these ones will actually clip onto the track or, alternatively, they can be hung along the sides of the hull.
Meng has also included a set of on-board tools, something which Takom didn't supply. These look far better than a set of empty brackets and bring a bit of life to the Whippet.
So, there we are. One Whippet ready for paint. Was it a fast and fun build? Well, it took me three nights to complete, plus an extra one for the tracks, but that included plenty of regulation tea breaks. This could certainly be built over a weekend if you set your mind to it. And fun? Definitely! Apart from getting the cab panels properly aligned, and the time is taken getting the tracks together, the build was a breeze from start to finish. It's certainly on equal terms with Takom's release as far as detail and build-ability goes, but for me, little touches like the onboard tools and the fact that the track spuds actually fit the tracks, inches Meng's release in front. All that's left is to see what the little pooch looks like with a spot of colour. That'll be coming up in part three.
Andy Moore
More on Meng’s kits can be seen on their website or keep an eye out here on TMN