Monday, May 3

Twin-build review Pt III: Miniart's 35th scale Austin Armoured Car 3rd Series & 1918 Pattern kits

Andy Moore is in the home straight with both of MiniArt's new 3rd Series & 1918 Pattern Armoured Car kits in 35th scale. Today he shows us part III of his build process as he nears the end of construction with both kits...

Twin build review: Austin Armoured Car 3rd Series & 1918 Pattern
Manufacturer – MiniArt
Kit Numbers – #39005 & #39009
Scale - 1/35th
Price - £36 – US$48 - €41 from Hobbylink Japan
Product Link on the MiniArt Website
Previous parts of this story:

Pt III: Twin-build review: Miniart's 35th scale Austin Armoured Car 3rd Series & 1918 Pattern kits
In part 1 of this duel build of MiniArt's new Austin armoured cars, we got the two chassis of the 3rd Series and the 1918 Pattern finished off and painted. While the construction so far had been a little frustrating at times, due to the fiddly nature of the build and a lot of tiny parts, it did result in two nice looking chassis, just waiting for the bodywork to be finished and dropped into place.
The body is built up from several panels that will need to be aligned quite carefully to ensure the whole assembly is square and will drop onto the chassis without problems Fortunately, MiniArt have done a good job with the engineering here as, for the most part, they did all go together very easily. The only areas I had some slight difficulty with were the various piano hinge sections that join some of the panels. These needed tiny amounts of flash and a few mould lines removing before the parts would interlock cleanly.
Before getting the panels together though, quite a few bolt heads need to be added to the curved sides of the turret sponsons. MiniArt have moulded the required bolt heads on the runner of sprue Ck, and the side panels have the positions for the bolts moulded on as tiny pin-point holes. It's simply a case of slicing a bolt head from the sprue, adding a tiny drop of liquid cement to the panel, and dropping the bolt into place. I'd advise only cutting two or three bolts from the sprue at a time as they're very easy to misplace. While there are more provided than are needed, you can't afford to loose too many.
With so many panels to assemble, I was a little concerned about getting everything squarely aligned, but in the end it all went together very easily. I would recommend building up the structure on a flat surface though to ensure everything stays square while the cement dries. Only those aforementioned piano hinge joints, specifically between the cab side panels and the turret sponsons, caused any problems. They refused to close up fully, despite the panels themselves being properly aligned. I elected not to fill the resulting gap though, to avoid messing up the surrounding details.
There are a few external details to add to the body, such as this tiny wingnut and its accompanying photo etched bracket, that are quite fiddly and delicate. You need to be very careful when handling the body after these details are added, as they're very easy to knock off – something I did on several occasions. That's the price you pay however, for getting the level of detail that MiniArt have incorporated into the kit.
If you're building the kit with all the hatches open, as I am with the Series 3, you're better off leaving all those hatches separate for painting. These needed the hinge joints cleaned up, as with the body panels, but are otherwise very easy to mount even after painting, The photo etch frames on the front and rear armoured vision hatches add a very nice degree of finesse to the build, and are very simple to attach as they simply drop over the moulded rivets on the hatches. The tiny PE levers on the clear vision blocks are a different matter though, and I knocked these off several times before the build was finished.
Another very delicate part of the bodywork are the rear wheel arches. These are moulded with a very small alignment pin that lines up with a hole on the rear side of the body, but are otherwise reliant on three thin PE brackets to hold the arches in place. Needless to say, if you catch the wheel arches after they're fitted (something that's easy to do), they'll knock off very easily. While this is a very scale-accurate way of mounting the arches, I feel that a more robust mounting method would have been preferable. That said, as long as you're careful, this way works okay, and certainly looks the part.
The arches on the 1918 Pattern are, if anything, even more fragile, as these ones only have two PE brackets to hold them in place. There is a small third bracket that connects the front edge of the arch to the chassis, but this can't be attached until the body is permanently mounted to the chassis. As I'll be painting the body separately, I had to leave the arches with just these two brackets for now, something which caused me problems later in the build.
The wheels were up next and, for the Series 3, these needed quite a bit of work as both the tyres and rims had quite a pronounced mould off-set which resulted in a step that prevented the wheel from pushing into the tyre. Both the steps on the inner tyre and the wheel rim had to be filed down until the two would mate together properly. The step running around the tyre tread also needed sanding down, and the individual tread grooves cleaning up with a needle file.
Once done, the tyres did slip nicely over the rims, but this highlighted a further issue, that being the rims were too wide for the tyres. With the front face of the wheel flush with the tyre, the rear face was protruding out from the tyre by more than 1mm – quite a lot in 1/35.
After some heavy sanding to reduce the width of the rims, the rear face of the wheels eventually sat flush with the tyres. Unfortunately, this also left a slight gap between the rim and tyre which needed filling to get a neat result. Fortunately the filling was only needed on the rear of the wheels, so the finish wasn't as critical as it would have been had the gap been on the front face. Still, more work than should be necessary to get a good result.
The wheels on the 1918 Pattern went together far more easily, although they still required some remedial work just on the tyres this time. These have been moulded with a multi-part tool that has resulted in a mould line running around the outer edge of the tyre's rim, as well as mould lines cutting across the tread at intervals around the tyre. Some of these also had big areas of flash that needed trimming. Cleaning up the mould lines was quite tricky, and needed a small blade to scrape the lines away while being very careful to not damage the delicate sidewall detail.
With the wheels taken care of, I temporarily mounted them, and the bodies, onto the chassis to check that everything fitted, and all the wheels touched the ground, which happily they did. 
The bodies were also an excellent fit on the chassis, just sliding down into place with no fuss at all.
All that remains to be finished now are the turrets, and then we can get onto the final painting and weathering. That will be coming up in the last part of the review, and that'll be here on TMN very soon.
Andy Moore

Thanks to MiniArt for sending Andy these two kits to review - and to build for you. YOu can find out more about these and their other excellent kits on the MiniArt Website