|KIT:||Italeri 1/35 Crusader III Anti-Aircraft Vehicle|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The British seemed to like a type of tank called a cruiser. These would have relatively high speeds, a somewhat lesser amount of armor and a somewhat smaller gun to keep the weight low so the tank would be able to travel faster. This made it perfect for ambushing other vehicles, but put it at a disadvantage in a slugging duel against some of the better German Panzers. As a result, but 1943, the Crusader tank (which was one of these cruisers) was no longer a viable weapon.
As so often happens in these cases, the vehicle was modified for other types of work. In this case, the big turret was removed and a smaller one with two Oerlikon (or are they Bofors) 20mm cannon was substituted. The idea being that it would help provide anti-aircraft protection to the column. While a good idea, it really didn't work as well as planned (nothing does as well against aircraft as other aircraft) so not too many were converted, making it a bit of a rarity, though it was used in combat during the Allied run across Europe.
The kit is very well molded in olive drab plastic. My armor buddies tell me that this is the first injection molded kit of this variant with only one rather so-so resin conversion set being produced for it in the past. This means new bits added to the sprues in terms of the turret and the armament carried. Since much of this is from the previous Crusader tank, there are a number of parts (like the side skirts) that are not used. You cannot make a standard tank from this one.
The rest of the kit is very well molded with minimal concerns from ejector pin marks or sink areas. There are a few, but should be easily removed or covered up during construction. Much of the suspension will be covered up by inner skirting during construction, making for a smoother build with less need to be sure everything is perfect in the suspension. There will be the usual amount of work on the road wheels, but since they are rather large, it shouldn't be a chore. The tracks are the single vinyl version that are simple to assemble but somewhat difficult to paint.
There are a lot of detail parts to place on the hull and the turret itself is pretty complete. There is quite a bit of detail on the guns and the inner turret area since it is an open construct. Plenty of room for placing figures and it is a bit of a shame that none were included with the kit.
The instructions are up to Italeri's usual high standards with well drawn construction sequences and painting information. All three versions are in Olive Drab with large US stars to keep them from being bombed by Allied aircraft. About the only difference in them is the serial number and the names applied to a few. The small decal sheet is well printed and matte. My experience with Italeri decals is good and these should prove to be super.
This looks like a real winner. For one thing, it is something that isn't kitted by anyone else and goes to show that if one waits long enough, even mainstream kit makers will start producing esoteric vehicles! This is a kit that both the experienced and somewhat neophyte builder should be able to do and do well.
Thanks to for the review kit. You can find Italeri kits at your favorite hobby shop or on-line at www.testors.com
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