Airfix 1/76 Saladin Armoured Car

KIT #: 02325
PRICE: HK$55.00
DECALS: Several options


Armoured cars go back to the very beginning of last century. They really matured in World War Two, where they were used for reconnaissance and a range of other tasks short of full on combat against enemy tanks. Armoured cars were valued not so much for their firepower as for their speed, reliability (compared to tanks), their ability to go cross country and act independently.

That said, some armoured cars ended up with some pretty heavy weaponry. The post-war Saladin was one of them. It replaced the British AEC Armoured Car, which had served in WW2 and carried a 75 mm gun.

The Saladin carried a 76mm cannon and two machine guns. It could truck along at 70 km/h and had a range of 400 km/h. Despite being a Cold War era vehicle, it didn't have NBC protection for its crew.

According to Wikipedia, "The Saladin was used by B sqn 16/5 Lancers during their defence of Nicosia airport in 1974 and subsequent armed recce operations under the banner of the UN". The Saladin was replaced in British service by the Scorpion light tank, but it saw many decades of service in other places like Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

The Australian military took the gun turrets from Saladin armoured cars and put them on top of M113 tracked armoured personnel carriers to create the Fire Support Vehicle during the 1960s.

This little gem was originally made by a company called JB, which was bought out by Airfix. In 2008 Airfix released this and a few other JB kits.

It's a neat and basic kit. Nicely moulded, with simple detail. I guess for serious armour modelers, it may not be up to scratch (considering what you can get these days). But in this scale, and of such a relatively obscure vehicle, I suspect it is quite popular anyway.

It doesn't have much detail behind the wheels, nor are there many smaller parts to give it the busy appearance military vehicles really have (lots of grab handles, attachments, etc).

There are some sink marks or depressions on the stowage boxes on the top of the hull. I didn't bother trying to fix these.

The pintle mounted machine gun is pretty awful and I recommend replacing it or just leaving it off.

I haven't built a tank or anything similar since I was a kid. This was a quickie build for fun.

There's no interior, so I built the turret first. Be sure not to glue the gun on if you want it to move. While that was drying, I put together the hull (two parts - didn't take long) and made the smaller components (the two smoke grenade launchers).

At this point I painted the whole thing - see below.

After the paint was dry, I moved to the final stages of construction. First, I enlarged the hole where the turret attaches to the hull. It was a tight fit and I wanted to be able to move my turret without applying too much force. I added the smoke cannisters, and the two antenna mounts. I cut off the thick kit antennae and replaced them with stretched sprue.

The kit's machine gun is really weird looking so I took a .50 cal gun from my Italeri M-20 kit and used that instead. I doubt it is the right gun for this vehicle, but that didn't bother me.

The 6 wheels are attached to a generic suspension component which then goes onto the hull. Be sure to align your wheels carefully so they are all touching the ground.

In the excellent Italeri US Army figure set number 6120 released in 2008 there is a tank commander. I took him, cut off his legs and head, and cut the pistol out of his hand. I bent his other arm around a bit, put the head back on at a different angle, and rested the pistol hand on top of the machine gun. I gave him a red scarf to hide the surgery scars. This guy would actually be the gunner, based on the hatch he is sitting in. The commander sat on the other side.

And that was that. An easy build of a cool looking armoured car.

I painted my car using Tamiya Deep Green XF-26. I read somewhere of the unusual combination of Humbrol paints you need to achieve the bronze green that these cars were supposedly painted, and just decided to go with what I had. The Saladin served widely and there are many suitable paint schemes apart from overall green or overall sand. There are two on the wikipedia page alone.

The kit comes with a small decal sheet containing number plates and small unit/regiment badges.

I might get around to weathering this little armoured car some day.

In summary, nicely moulded but basic indeed. A fun build out of the box and if you had the inclination, a good basis for further detailing. Great for a weekend build or a quick recharge from a project that's bogged down.

Richard F

September 2011

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