Like me many were delighted with the announcement from AFV Club of their Churchill AVRE Mk III. This first 1/35 scale AVRE in plastic, just like the new Mk III Gun Tank is a very welcome addition indeed.
In preparation for the invasion of Europe and as a result of the experience learned in the failed Dieppe raid, the British realized that in order to facilitate a successful landing on the coast of North Wes Europe they would need specialized armour support to help overcome the beach obstacles and defenses. 79th Armoured Division was tasked with this responsibility and under command of Major General Percy Hobart developed a range of specialized armoured engineering vehicles to help accomplish this. "Hobart’s Funnies" had been born and these vehicles went on to play a key part in both the successful landings and final defeat of Nazi Germany.
By 6th of June sufficient numbers of these "Funnies" were deployed and ready to assist the landings. The "Funnies" were based on the converted Mk III and Mk IV Churchill Gun Tanks. The Churchill AVRE (Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers) was a key vehicle within the wide variety of "Funnies." It was armed with a Petard Spigot Mortar, designed to destroy bunkers and blow holes in the sea wall defenses.
AFV Club has brought us the Churchill MK III Gun Tank and soon we hope the Churchill AVRE Mk III. The new Resicast
conversion set will give you the opportunity to convert these vehicles into the more common Churchill AVRE Mk IV.
Contained in a sturdy cardboard box and wrapped in protective layers of bubble wrap, the set contains a 12 page instruction booklet, 3 zip bags of conversion parts, the cast AVRE Mk IV turret and later style blanket box. I have always been impressed with the packaging of the Resicast
items and this is no different to other sets I have received. It is an indication of the quality of the items contained within. On the front of the box are the manufacturer's detail with a good colour picture of the built turret and some smaller pictures of the additional conversion parts, a painted AVRE and an alternative picture of the rear LSH of the turret.
The kit is cast in a light gray resin. I could seen no air bubbles or cause for concern, the parts being highly detailed and extremely well cast.
The 12 page instruction booklet is in the new style. Page 1 contains a picture of the Mk IV turret and underneath a listing of the resin parts. Page 2 shows all the main parts identified by picture and part number, whilst page 3 shows a list of the etched parts and details on the No 19 Radio Set. Page 4 and 5 cover the internal fittings in the turret, and page 6, covers the fitting of the loaders hatch and pages 6 lower half, 7, 8 and 9 the building of the external Spigot mortar barrel, with page 9 showing some close ups of the actual kit. Page 10 is deals with with the external turret fittings whilst page 11 shows the position of the external additional brackets for the hull armour sides. The final page, page 12 contains the contact details of the company and reference form if you have any problems with damaged or missing parts.
The Mk IV Turret
The main difference between the Mk III and Mk IV was the turret. The Mk III AVRE had the welded turret whilst the more common Mk IV had the cast version. A number of attempts had been made by resin manufacturers to replicate this turret. I built the older Resicast set and it was by far the closest to the real thing and had the added advantage of being hollow. The New Resicast MK IV turret for the AFV Club Churchill Mk III kit follows on in that excellent style. Cast in a light gray resin the turret features excellent exterior detail and some cast internal detail also. The finish gives an excellent reproduction of the real thing with nice sharp detail, cast numbers and compared against the information I have a good representation of shape and size if the real item.
Terry Ashley did a comparison of the sets available over on PMMS sometime back and you may wish to take a look at that.
As far as I can tell the new turret retains the dimensional properties of the older set so is a very good match.
The added bonus of this set is that you get a basic interior to add, plus the base of the Spigot mortar, so with the additional of a little plumbing you will have a nice busy interior if you want to display the model with the hatches open. The turret will require a little clean up to remove 3 pour stubs from the rear and the film in the hatch openings.
As well as some internal molded fittings you get a very neat No 19 radio set, barrel rear section, 2 x satchels, 1 x binocular case, gun barrel and mount, handle, elevating arm, gun trunnion, flare box, Bessa box, grenade box, seat, Variometer, Hellesen lamp and flare gun holster, so plenty to fill up and detail that large space.
Externally the turret comes with all the necessary fittings including fire extinguishers, a choice of rear blanket boxes, with the older square style or the later sloped box for D Day and beyond.. 2 replacement hatches are provided for the RHS turret hatch with the kit hatch being used for the commanders’ cupola. The necessary antenna bases and PE tie downs, gun sight, flag satchel, periscope and pistol port covers are provided as necessary. The external 290mm Petard Spigot Mortar barrel is hollow showing the barrel supports for the mortar bomb. You get two mortar bombs to go with the kit, these were know as flying dustbins and weighed 40lb containing a 26lb demolition charge.
All in all a very busy turret adding lots of additional detail to the build. "Armour in Focus" has good examples of both the Mk III and Mk IV turrets and also links to external and internal pictures that are an excellent reference:
Armor in Focus
Loader's Hatch Brackets & Suspension Units
The kit comes with either open or closed loaders hatch, which is a thoughtful detail and the centre brackets and front brackets often seen on the AVREs. In addition you get 2 detailed suspension units should you wish to mount these on the rear fenders of the tank, a feature seen on some AVREs during the initial landings on D Day and for a few days after.
A small fret of PE is included and contains handles for the No 19 radio, antenna guards for same (optional), compass support bracket, tie downs, Petard guard, gun sight and brackets to complete the set.
This set replaces and builds on the older conversion set that was designed for the Tamiya Churchill Gun Tank. It provides a detailed conversion for the AFV Club Mk III Gun Tank to a Mk IV AVRE. It should also provide a suitable conversion of the expected Churchill AVRE Mk III to turn it into a Mk IV AVRE.
The addition of the internal turret detail, No 19 Radio, full Petard barrel and the many satchels, and boxes plus the quality casting of the AVRE turret and the inclusion of the suspension units all add to the overall quality of the set.
Opening a Resicast conversion just speaks quality and this set is no different, highly detailed, well thought out and engineered it will provide modellers with an excellent representation of the Mk IV AVRE.
It also adds something else and that is the commitment of this company to give quality products and value for money AM products to modellers, allowing them to build a range of vehicles that currently don’t exist in 1/35 plastic. If you build 1/35 British/Commonwealth kits then probably sooner or later you will get around to visiting Resicast. You shouldn’t be disappointed.