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A34 Comet Cruiser Tank - Vespid 1/72 build
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Posted: Sunday, August 30, 2020 - 05:15 AM UTC

Following up on the inbox review of Vespid's new A34 Comet tank here, this will show the build. The instructions and sprue shots can be viewed on the review page.

Starting with the hull, the outer side walls are added over the internal Christie shocks and axles. This is a nice authentic design touch, though I suspect none of it will be visible if the model is fully built as an intact tank. Fit is perfect, needed a few dots of cement to make sure it is securely fixed all the way along.


The road wheels go together without any fuss being quite chunky, just the normal cleaning up of sprue tags and a small amount of ejector mark on the mating face. Only five per side as well - a nice change from some of the piddly fiddly wheels I've had to deal with recently.


Return rollers went on easily enough, helped by the sprue attachment being the axle end.


Then the roadwheels, and the idler:


Main thing required is to make sure they all line up straight:


Sprockets join together easily, and the attachment point to the hull is very solid, allowing it to stay in place without cement, so it can be rotated to align with the tracks. At first the idler stood away from the hull:


A combination of drilling the hole on the wheel, expanding the location point on the hull and shortening the axle stub resulted in it being possible to align with the roadwheels:


Slightly more clean up effort is required with the link and length tracks. The sprue attachments are quite numerous and are in between the track pins. That's good but makes removing the sprue tags quite tricky. I used a newish pointed blade inserted almost vertically down between the track pin and the tag, the blade would hit the cutting mat before it could go too far and risk slicing right through the adjacent track pin. I did manage to lose a couple
however before I sussed that method. Photo shows before (below) and after (above) that initial trim:


There are some single links as well, which are easier to deal with as the attachment is on the long sides:


The instructions don't specify the assembly order and I went ahead with all the long sections, which on reflection was a mistake. I suggest starting with the bottom section, then the shorter lengths between the road wheels and the idler and sprocket, then the single links, starting at the bottom, then finally adding the top length. This will avoid the situation where the final single link either doesn't span the final gap, or is too big to squeeze in.
Anyway, here are the bottom and top runs in place:


Then the lengths up to the idler and sprocket:


I got away with it on the left track and the final link fitted exactly (tick), but on the right track the gap wasn't correct (cross).


However, the small gap that was left would be completely hidden by the front side track guard, and there is a similar guard at the back if the same siuation arises.



In fact I was able to remove the top run and reposition it without too much difficulty, and the final link then fitted in place exactly, the end of the top run being cemented in place only after the final single link (in this case at the back) :


These two photos show that the tracks fit together well, the single links being easy to align with each other, and the amount of track is exactly right. The top length can be fitted in place, and a very minimal sag can be
introduced, as appears to have been the case with tanks in service. Having built a fair number of small scale tanks with link and length tracks over the last few years, I'd say these were the easiest to get right.



Thanks, more later if you're interested.
CMOT
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Posted: Sunday, August 30, 2020 - 09:03 PM UTC
Nicely photographed and clearly explained steps on your part (even tips on cleaning up the tracks). I am pleased to see this go together so well so far and if it continues tells me its a case of getting what you pay for.
spongya
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Posted: Sunday, August 30, 2020 - 09:10 PM UTC
Looks like a really awesome model - I love these 1/72 scale tanks that would be perfectly fine in 1/35 as far as the level of detail is concerned.
Biggles2
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Posted: Monday, August 31, 2020 - 03:23 AM UTC
Gotta get me one! (or two!!)
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Posted: Sunday, September 06, 2020 - 03:07 AM UTC
Thanks, yes, agree the tracks look great and go together well.
The next steps involve detailing the upper hull. It rests in place easily on the lower hull by pins at front and back, and below also the front plate is just dry fitted while I test fit the side of the co-driver's hatch. The diver and co-driver hatch are tiny and to the outer side of each crew position. Although the sides of the hatches are provided as separate parts, as you can see there is no opening beneath them, and the upper horizontal section of the hatch is moulded in place.


Looking at the front plate itself we see the two openings, left for the driver's visor, right for the bow machine gun. The visor shield is in two parts so that there is detail on both sides and authentic thickness. The instructions don't go out of their way to make it clear which way the inner face should be positioned, but the photo below is the correct way.

Although the inner face is detailed, if you want the shield open, you might want to make the inner face of the hinge a little thicker and rounder, as I have done by adding two small strips of 0.5mm semi-circle section rod:


The machine gun is a single piece with the barrel and armoured mounting moulded together. The end is moulded open, but I opened it a little more with a drill. Photos of the Comet in action all seem to show the machine gun about a quarter turn to the right and pointing slightly down, so that is what I reproduced here. I had to slightly reduce the diameter of the mounting disk on the mg part itself so that it was looser in the hole and could hang down enough.


The final part on the front plate is a small handle that is welded to the right side, fairly low down. The plate was then cemented in place, it fitting precisely behind the three angled fillets that are welded along the lower edge, and that are moulded in place on the hull superstructure.
Also in place in the photos below are the two front lights. These don't have any locating holes or stems, but in real life appear to have very short mounting stalks, so I trimmed away almost all of the sprue tag, then cemented them on to the mounting plates; compared to what we have seen so far on this kit, the fitment for these was quite vague.
On the left of the sloping front place, next to the track guard, is what I believe to be a folded down or stowed river's mirror. I think it would be extended up and hinged into position so that the driver could see behind, either through the visor or periscope. Just visible is the ring of cement where the stem snapped as I was cleaning it up.



Another breakage occurred with the stowed pry bar that mounts on the rear side, which broke in to three pieces. I decided the easiest fix was to remove the centre section
between the mounting points and replace it with a length of square rod. Although parts such as this are very finely rendered in this kit, which is a good thing from the detail
point of view, breakages are likely when removing such delicately moulded components from the sprue or cleaning up the mould seams.


Another tool resembling a hockey stick mounts on the opposite side, this time with no problems, and below we also see one of the stowage boxes about to be added to the side; these are precisely located by pins and holes which allow them to be cemented from underneath.
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Posted: Wednesday, September 16, 2020 - 08:55 AM UTC
Continuing then with detailing the uper hull. Added the front tow hooks, still with the sprue tags on, to be trimmed off once the cement is set:


The broken barrel lock was put back together and added to the rear deck along with the raised cover:


And the lamp protectors, which seem OK, might try to thin them down a bit once set:


The rear plate has the two square bolted covers that blank off the holes that were in place in anticipation of the fish tail exhausts, the components for which didn't arrive in time for some of the Comets that were deployed. From what photos I can find of the rear it seems possible that these plates are correct for at least some of those Comets with the two part Normandy cowl over the exhaust vent, that is, those which allowed the gun to be clamped facing to the rear, between the two cowls. The kit gives the option of the later two part or the earlier one part cowl. Looking at some photos of the one part cowl it seems that this was fitted before Comets started being manufactured with the holes for the future fish tails. The photo below shows this well (click on it to see it bigger)

THE BRITISH ARMY IN NORTH-WEST EUROPE 1944-45. IWM (BU 3201) IWM Non Commercial License

Long story short, I eliminated them:


The same photo also shows that the cowl is just one big hole, as it were, and that those three vertical lines are just reinforcing bars to stop the top caving in. So as below, the dividers were also eliminated:


The cowl was then cemented in place, with vertical strips added which were scrap offcuts from an etched set (not from this kit).
firstcircle
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Posted: Tuesday, September 29, 2020 - 06:58 AM UTC
The instructions show the rear sides and backs of the track guards being cemented in place after the hull tub and superstructure have been joined. I want to assemble everything except the top and bottom until some of the painting has been done, so that means cementing the track guards to the superstructure only.



Telephone box and tow bar:


Moving to the turret, main components:


The instructions require removal of the cabling for the post-WW2 smoke projectors:



And also drilling out the lifting lugs:


With the driver's visor cemented open a figure can be placed inside:


And for the open turret hatches two more figures. All from AB Figures' British tank crew in pixie suits set.


Note that the turret front has fixtures for attaching the canvas mantlet cover. The shape of the cover changed post war, becoming wider, and I believe that the two pairs of fasteners one above the other on either side of the mantlet should be removed for the more narrow cover fitted to WW2 examples.

The omission of the mantlet cover is perhaps yet another instance of a model company relying solely on preserved examples, many of which do not have canvas covers probably because they have disintegrated, and perhaps on photos of the prototype to which it also wasn't fitted.
Perhaps an aftermarket company will produced a resin replacement, but in the meantime I've almost finished making one from Magic Sculp. Still needs a bit of tidying.

Something else I think is missing from the either side of the turret front are the disk like ends of the trunnions. Before starting to build up the putty I made two disks from pieces of sprue and cemented them in place.



And for the open hatch covers some detail is needed; padding, closing straps and a latch on the cupola cover:
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Posted: Tuesday, September 29, 2020 - 07:21 AM UTC
To clarify what the trunnions are and that they should be present:

(c) IWM BU2758
CMOT
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Posted: Friday, October 02, 2020 - 09:16 PM UTC
Keep up the great work bud as some of us really appreciate your efforts.
nsjohn
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Posted: Friday, October 02, 2020 - 11:44 PM UTC
Great work. Delighted to see the Comet getting a new model as it is seriously unrepresented in model form in any scale. I have a Bronco 1/35 kit in the stash, which is now almost 20 years old, and so far as I am aware, there is no more recent tooling. With regard to the Matchbox/Revell kit, I am sure I saw somewhere it is about to be re-released, which may help, but I do wonder if Airfix would have been better releasing a new tool Comet rather than the forthcoming Cromwell.
Biggles2
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Posted: Saturday, October 03, 2020 - 02:58 AM UTC

Quoted Text


The omission of the mantlet cover is perhaps yet another instance of a model company relying solely on preserved examples...


Offhand I can't readily think of any model company including a mantlet cover with their kit - including Bronco's 1/35 Comet. Real covers, being canvass, are flexible, and allow elevation of the gun barrel. A kit part, being rigid, would not allow that, and would probably create criticism for not being able to pose the gun barrel. It's a case of "being damned if you do, and damned if you don't"! However, the company could provide an alternate mantlet piece - one with cover molded on; and one without. Modelers choice of which one to use!
nsjohn
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Posted: Saturday, October 03, 2020 - 10:29 AM UTC
AFV club do one for their Centurion, and I have a Dragon one for their M4A2 Russian kit issued by Cyberhobby which is made out of their DS track material
Biggles2
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Posted: Saturday, October 03, 2020 - 11:03 AM UTC

Quoted Text

AFV club do one for their Centurion, and I have a Dragon one for their M4A2 Russian kit issued by Cyberhobby which is made out of their DS track material


Yeah, and Bronco made one for their 1/35 Comet, but none of the kits came with an included mantlet cover. They were all either after-market, or afterthought! That's my point - nobody includes one IN the kit.
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Posted: Monday, October 05, 2020 - 03:50 AM UTC
Matthew,

I read your review of this kit and although the 1/72 Revell Cromwell (which I am currently building) is nicely detailed, this Vespid offering definitely has a few points up on it. Your detailing of the assembly with the accompanying clear images really show both the details of the kit and parts assembly. My only question might be as to whether the track guide horns are not a bit small? As with other builds I've seen you do your subtle enhancements to the kit should really add to its overall appearance. Thanks for reviewing and presenting this interesting model. I look forward to seeing it's continued progress.

Cheers,
--Jan
CMOT
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Posted: Monday, October 05, 2020 - 04:15 AM UTC
Matthew
I have to concur that your observations and pointers for improving what is provided is what makes you one of the people I make a point of watching. Really nice work bud.
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Posted: Sunday, October 11, 2020 - 05:40 AM UTC

Quoted Text

but none of the kits came with an included mantlet cover. They were all either after-market, or afterthought! That's my point - nobody includes one IN the kit.


Biggles, it does seem strange, and the omission from kits such as AFV Club's Centurion seems extraordinary considering literally every photo of a Centurion except the prototypes features such a cover. Even Airfix's ancient kit doesn't have it. On the other hand I think I am right in saying that T-54/55 kits normally do have them, so what's the difference? I guess it's a bit like all those German tank kits that should have zimmerit.

Quoted Text

the Matchbox/Revell kit, I am sure I saw somewhere it is about to be re-released


Norman, it has now been re-released and is available; it is around half the cost of this Vespid kit (still no mantlet cover )

Quoted Text

My only question might be as to whether the track guide horns are not a bit small?


Jan, thanks for your comments, nice to hear from you I agree, definitely a bit short, well spotted. At first I thought maybe it was just that the rest of the track was too thick, but this photo does confirm it:


Quoted Text

some of us really appreciate your efforts


Darren, thanks....

For the missing tow cable I have a spare Eureka XXL item (think this was originally for a Pz.Kpfw III) that seems about the right length. From photos it appears that the cable is doubled, so two pieces fitted into the ends. There's not room to drill a hole to fit the cable into, but I drilled a small hole to make a bit more contact for the glue; hopefully it won't fall apart when bent into shape.


On the turret (and the hull) I fitted the etched tops of the periscopes, and then looked at how the spare track links are meant to attach - which is that they are just shown as being glued on to the turret surface. So two copper wire hooks were added on each side:


The links seem like they hang off the hooks by the track pins, and these were added to the blank spaces at the top of the links from 0.3mm rod. The lower end of the links would be held in place by two brackets welded to the turret, but it seemed an acceptable (to me) representation of this would be to remove three sections of the lower link, with the remaining two protrusions standing in for the brackets:


The links were then hung on the hooks and the bottom "brackets" cemented in place:


When positioning the rear half of the gunner's hatch it's apparent that the stay mechanism that the hatch would latch into is in slightly the wrong position so that the lid sits on top, instead of next to it:


I mistakenly removed the very top detail of that stay thinking that was all that was needed, but then realised the whole piece should be moved over, which I did and I will add the tiny detail back on top of it when all of this assembly is set.
So here both of the hatches have been added in the open position with their additional detailing, and that stay has been relocated so that the hatch opens right next to it:
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Posted: Sunday, October 18, 2020 - 07:21 AM UTC
Continuing with the turret... the gun barrel fits into a block (that oddly has some rivet detail for some reason) that in theory allows the gun the elevate, but obviously that is now out with my mantlet cover in place.
Test fitting showed that with the block positioned fully home, the gun barrel wouldn't quite sit flush on the mantlet, so I drilled / carved the hole to allow it to fit further in.


Having done most of the work on the turret I turned to the etched metal gun sighting vane that mountd in front of the commander's cupola, which in the instructions doesn't look like it should.
It should have a sloped top like a roof gable, instead of flat, the front apex being taller than the rear. I started to construct it anyway, and then realised that the component is more or less correct, but the instructions are wrong about how it should look, something that has even carried over on to the colour profiles in the painting guide, although on the box top art it looks correct.
Below I have added an edited version in the red box. The top piece is probably designed to bend down across the top from back to front, and the point should be lowest at the back, higher towards the front.


There is a small plinth to mount it on. Getting it correctly positioned and orientated in all angles would have been made esier if the plinth had been moulded with a small pip on top, and a corresponding hole eteched in the centre of the base of the vane... but that's not there, so with this thing being so fiddly to hold once bent into shape, I decided I'd concentrate on gluing it in the right position first, then do the final shaping and glue the top together (arrowed below) once it was firmly set on the turret. I found the easiest way to get it located correctly and held down long enough for the CA to grab was using a blunt cocktail stick with a wetted end which proved sticky enough to lift it into place.


The turret light is another delicate component I was leaving until other stuff was completed. There is a small moulded detail of the cable gland cut into the corner of the splash guard in front of the cupola, from which the power cable runs to the light, and this clearly reveals that the mounting hole for the light is in the wrong place (shown in the red square in the photo above) being too far to the rear, as well as too high up.
That hole was filled by cementing in a wedge of sprue, and a new hole drilled lower and forward, in line with the cable fitting. I wasn't going to fiddle further with this, but in the end I decided that the light was also positioned too close to the centre of the bracket, and didn't have a long enough stalk, so it was snipped off, a hole drilled into the light base, through a section of 0.5mm rod and the bracket, and reattached nearer the end. In the photo below the copper wire is hanging waiting for all to set solid before being trimmed and bent into a U for attachment where the bracket meets the turret.
I also attached the aerial guard; you get a choice of two, but I couldn't work out which one I was meant to use even after studying photos. I think maybe neither of them are quite tall enough, but I could be wrong.

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Posted: Friday, October 30, 2020 - 07:01 AM UTC
This build log continues over on the new forum: A34 Comet Cruiser Tank - Vespid kit build.

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