Italeri 1/35 Autoblinda AB.41

KIT #: 6442
PRICE: $45.00 MSRP
DECALS: Several options
REVIEWER: Laurent Moitrot
NOTES:

HISTORY

After the war in Ethiopia ( 1935-1936 ) and in Spain (which began in 1936) it appeared to the Italian  army  that the armoured cars they  already  had (Fiat – ansaldo tipo 611 and Ansaldo Lancia tipo 1 ZM) had to be replaced. The colonial Italian empire ( Abyssinia and Lybia ) was begging for a modern armored  vehicle  which  could be used by the colonial  police  in this difficult landscape.

The new vehicle  appeared  in 1939. The first prototype, the colonial one, was showed to the Duce on May the 15th and the second one, the army car in June 1939. They both had twin machine guns  in the turret  and a third one in the hull, firing backwards. This was the AB40.

The first production vehicles  were  ordered  on march 18, 1940. It was asked that some of the cars would be equipped with  a  Breda 20 mm gun in the turret , replacing one of the lighter machine guns .

The war against France and England quickly showed that all the cars should be equipped with this heavier armament. The car was then called the AB 41. By May 1943, 557 cars were delivered.

In 1943 it was decided that an Ansaldo 47 mm semi automatic gun would be installed in a bigger  redesigned turret  and  thicker armor. This was called the AB 43 model. Due to the fall of the fascist regime  it never came to production.

Of course the Italeri model  is the AB 41.

This car was considered  as  an excellent  armored car. It had two driving wheels,  one to drive backwards  which  is very convenient when you want to escape as fast as possible and there’s not enough room to turn around. It was fast and had a 400 km range  on the road ( or 8 hours when used as a 4x4). Of course as it had to be produced very fast, some of the teething problems remained such as the lack of accessibillity to the engine, the main fuel tank not being armored, no firewall between the  engine  and the crew compartment  and the steering  being fragile. This was the fate of the Italian army to have to fight using gear that was either  obsolete,  of poor conception, or good but  available  in small quantities.

THE KIT

The kit was previewed by Scott Van Aken and there’s nothing I should add. It  comes  out of the box as a very fine kit. Highly detailed with very fine rivets. The car is covered with rivets so they have to be good !

CONSTRUCTION

I had in mind to build this model as it came fout of the box without  any  modifications.

The instructions  are rather good and if you follow  them step by step  you don’t risk much.

The only concern being that I needed  pictures of the  vehicle to glue some of the parts the right way, for  the instructions seemed  a bit confusing  at times.

One good point is that there is an arrow molded on the chassis which shows you where the front is. It may sound silly to you but as the underframe  is perfectly  symmetrical there’s a risk that you build it the wrong way ( parts 4a and 5a ).  Also be careful while gluing the wheels . Be sure  they  are on the same level. Because of the way Italeri separates the various parts, a mistake  is very  easy to do (I can tell as it happened to me …)

Building the hull was not the easiest  thing to do. Despite the four rods which help you with the  body sides, gluing each plate requires your attention. You can see from the pics that  although I was carefull some joints  needed  to be filled with putty. This is serious stuff because you don’t want  to ruin the beautiful  rivet  lines. The result  is worth the  pain.

Concerning the turret, be careful with part #67b . I had to look at  pictures of the car for that one . Be sure that it is aligned with the turret roof. Glue it « as high as possible ». (see pics for help)

Looking at pictures  of vehicles  from different times of production I could notice some parts are optionnal. For example, late production models  had got jerrycans on the front fenders but lacked the  two  horns. Other vehicles only  had one horn and on those which had two they were not symmetrical (  so the way they look on my model is not a mistake !). Some others had got jerrycans  on the side of the turrets … you decide !

On most of the pics I’ve seen parts 35b were  closed to protect  the  main lights .

The  interior of the car is empty, with the exception of the guns and the gunner’s seat. It seemed  to me I’d better close every  door  to hide  this emptyness.  I guess some resin aftermarket parts will soon be available to fill this gap !

As I already said, my intention was to build it straight  out of the box, without any modifications. Now if someone  wants  to go into detailing this model here are a few suggestions : as usual the tools cry for some details. The way  they are fixed on the hull is a bit too simple as usual. The main hatch on the turret lacks two small handles . This doesn’t require any expensive photoetched parts. Sprue will do the job . I must confess that the only part of the kit I don’t like is the antenna. It looks weird and thick. Unfortunately I couldn’t  find in my  files a close up view  of this part.

COLORS & MARKINGS

I think this car is a bit too small to be painted with  a heavy  camouflage so I chose  the  vehicle from the « Republica Sociala Italiana »  which is painted an overall sand color. Because of the way I usually do the weathering I didn’t really care about any « special italian sand » but used Gunze H66 sand brown which is in fact  the german RLM79 sand yellow. I then applied a very heavy  wash of a mix of turpentine and burnt  umber  oil paint.  I like it thick, some people don’t, and let it dry for a few hours. I then rub it with my  bare fingers and a piece of tissue to reach for the places which are out of reach for my big clumzy  fingers. Next step was after 24hours of rest to drybrush the model. I used the gunze acrylic paint I used to paint the car, mixed with  some yellow  oil paint to lighten it up a bit. I added some white oil paint to this mix to add the last touch to this drybrushing.

It was then time for « filtering » which I did using  ochre yellow (still oil paint) heavily diluted in some matt varnish. The last touch was to reproduce the bare metal using a pencil and to put some pastels on the wheels to simulate the dust.

CONCLUSIONS

I really loved building this kit. As it comes it is one nice kit with the usual italeri idiosyncrasies  which make it an easy but delicate model to build.

REFERENCES

An issue of « VMI international » (a French magazine ) from October 1986, which featured a nice 1/35 scale drawing  and a few good pics .

Also  a few pics gathered on the net at : http://www.wwiivehicles.com/italy/armored_cars/ab_40_ab_41_ab_43.html

September 2005

Laurent Moitrot

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