In-Box Review
Chieftain Mk5

by: KiwiDave [ KIWIDAVE ]

The Chieftain was the primary MBT with the British Army from its introduction in the late sixties until Challenger 1 entered service in the late eighties.

Throughout its service life the Chieftain was subject to upgrades of automotive and weapons systems and was the first tank to use composite ceramic armour in its Stillbrew variant.


What is it
The kit box proclaims that this is a Mk5 but it is not. It is a good representation of a Mk3 and if Tamiya were to change the box description I could review the kit for what it is and score it accordingly.

The Chieftain was produced in three factory versions, Mk2, 3 and 5 which were then upgraded to later marks. They kept their original serials so it is easy to identify from a photo what mark a particular tank was. However it is very difficult, if not impossible, to look at a Chieftain and actually determine what mark it is.

The significant visual difference between a Mk3 and a Mk5 is the large NBC pack that the Mk5 has fitted to the rear of the turret.


What do you get
The kit is a re-release of an 1970 motorised 'toy' minus the motor. Included in the kit are three half figures but these are either dwarfs or the British Army was under-feeding its tankers. [Editor's note: being a 5'2" tanker has advantages]

There are not a lot of detail parts, and those that are there are rather crude.

The vinyl tracks are quite nice, fairly finely moulded with nice detail and beefy joining lugs.

In my example the barrel halves did not align axially and were badly bent, and the lower hull was warped.


The build
Because I had already discovered via Armorama prior to buying the kit that it was not a Mk5 I obtained a Castoff resin conversion set.

Assembly was straightforward as would be expected with such a simple model, and fit of the main parts good. Location of rear stowage boxes and searchlight was a bit vague. Most details, fire extinguishers, smoke generators, radio aerial mounts, splash deflector, etc, were discarded and replaced by scratchbuilt parts.

As already mentioned the barrel was warped. I used brass tube to reinforce it and as I was building a later model I did some surgery to the barrel anyway. The barrel should be fitted to the turret prior to the turret being closed, but this did not fit in with my build method so I modified the turret so I could slip the barrel in after it had been completed.

Locating holes for details such as headlight brush guards were oversize and were filled with stretched sprue.

The rest of the build involved modifications, detailing and fitting the resin parts.


The verdict.
It is said that this is an old kit and therefore we should put up with its failings. I do not agree. Tamiya is selling this as a Mk5 Chieftain. It is not. They do not clearly mark the box to identify this as a re-release of an old kit. They do not significantly lower the price relative to newer kits.

As an old kit of a Mk3 it is a perfectly acceptable, if rather basic, model. Unfortunately I have to score it by what it says on the box.

Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 35068
  Suggested Retail: NZ$45
  PUBLISHED: Aug 11, 2003
  NATIONALITY: United States

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