|KIT:||Trumpeter 1/35 Italian C1 Ariete MBT|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
My usual attempt at googling a history was unsuccessful, so I'll paraphrase what is written on the box side.
In 1984 two companies in Italy, Alenia Difesa and Iveco (who build trucks) decided to do a tank and a bunch of other vehicles for the Italian Army. In this way, the Italians could use their own stuff instead of buying things from overseas. The first company had the main battle tank as its project while Iveco produced the running gear.
First prototype of the Ariete (ram) was completed two years later in 1986 and despite an near overwhelming desire to paint it Ferrari Red, it was done in the usual Olive Drab. In 1988 a few other prototypes joined the first one so that the Italian Army could put it through its paces. The generals liked it and wanted 200 more. In fact they really liked it and ordered an additional 200.
Unfortunately, their timing was poor and the end of the Cold War resulted in the cancellation of the second batch of tanks. Much weeping and wailing ensued and eventually only one factory was geared up with the first production tank leaving the lines in 1995. Since the unions had to milk this as much as they could, it took until 2002 for the last of them to be produced. Total cost of the project was 970 million dollars. That turns out to be a bit more than 46 million per tank. Well, it looks cool.
The short history gives no indication of weapon size, speed or weight. I can only assume they are big, fast, and heavy.
Having expected some rather odd molding from Trumpeter in regard to its aircraft kits, I was not sure just what to expect from them in regard to this tank kit. Well, I was pleasantly surprised and the parts were well packaged with no more than two sprues to a plastic bag. The detail level on the parts is superbly done and though one side of many parts is festooned with ejector pin holes, it seems as if those will be hidden once the kit is built. There are a few sink areas, the two that jumped out at me were along side the turret opposite two very large alignment towers. These should be easy to fill as there is no real detail nearby. Same with those on the upper hull part. One could probably blow them off as they are relatively shallow. The shocks for the road wheels also have these problems, but again, they face inward so will probably be invisible.
There is no interior for this kit, though I'm sure someone will come along with one. Tracks are the vinyl one-piece variety and are well molded. Painting them may be an issue and again, I'm sure that a set of aftermarket tracks will become available. Transparencies are provided for the two turret copulas in the form of an acetate sheet where one cuts out the little squares to then install. There are lots of bits and pieces to attach to the outside of the hull and turret as you would expect on a modern tank. There is also an external hand held machine gun.
The instruction sheet is quite well done and provides some color info to be used during construction. The construction sequences are well drawn so there should be no problem with assembly. An interesting omission is that there is only a rather odd paint code of 'TC10' for the external color. I know it is olive green from looking at the box art and drawing on the side, but it is still odd that no paint name is given for the outside. A small decal sheet (not shown) provides the usual unit markings and a small section of string is included so that you can use it to make a tow cable.
I have to say that I'm pretty impressed with this kit. I bought it because it was different. I rarely actually build tracked vehicles, but maybe this time it will actually see glue rather than sit and gather dust. Regardless, it is a good value for the money (unlike some of their airplane kits) and is quite well molded. I'll let the armor experts pick it apart as I'm sure it has some sort of flaw to trap the unwary! :o)
Late addition: I have been informed by Capt. Paolo Fanin, who commanded a company of these tanks that there is a coaxial machine gun. It is just difficult to discern on the kit sprues. He also tells me that the kit is quite accurate aside from using an early fume extractor on the barrel. The newer one is smaller and retrofitted to earlier versions. The web site www.ferreamole.it is recommended as a good place to get detail photo information.
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