Challenger II - Iraq 2003
  Dragon Kit No. 7228

I previously vowed to not buy another Dragon kit until they showed a marked improvement in quality. They have now done so. (Note: The correct designation for this tank is Challenger 2, not Challenger II.)

I bought this kit with the intention of building and painting it in a European scheme, not realizing at the time that Dragon has future plans to issue a kit of the KFOR version of the Challenger 2. If I am correct, the only difference between the two kits will be the markings, and the KFOR kit will likely not include the sprue of parts for the add-on armor shown below (although this is just a guess at this time).

Thankfully, this is an entirely plastic kit, with no cast metal parts. As with Dragon's other kits, the lower hull is molded as a single piece with completely detailed hull sides and chassis parts incorporated onto the hull. The main hull piece is also very nicely detailed, with the side armor molded onto the hull sides as well. One of the few criticisms I have of this kit is that the side armor is not provided as separate parts. Everything is abundantly detailed, including the wheels. The driver's hatch is open, but there is some plastic that will need to be removed inside the open hatch, as this was the location for a screw on the die-cast version of this model. Although it appears in these scans that the two turret hatches are open, they are in fact, not. The hatches are provided molded together with the machinegun mounts and rails, and they cannot be posed open without major surgery.

The sprue above shows the add-on armor. I think that this sprue will be lacking in the forthcoming KFOR version of this kit, since this armor was not mounted on vehicles stationed in Kosovo. However, that's not to say that it could not have been mounted, if needed. This armor was intended to be mounted in combat conditions, and in fact, it was mounted on Challenger 1 tanks that served in Kosovo before the Challenger 2s. So it is probable that the armor was in storage in theater, available to be mounted on the Challenger 2s if needed. (This is speculation on my part, and if someone knows anything concrete about this, I'd like to hear it.) So . . . if Dragon releases a KFOR version of this model without the add-on armor, then the modeler will be best served to buy this Iraq kit, and procure after market decals instead, because the inclusion of the add-on armor will give more building options, in particular, for hypothetical combat situations.

The tracks are very soft and flexible, and nicely detailed. Since they will be almost entirely hidden behind the side armor, I think they should look perfectly adequate, assuming that the individual links don't bend in half as they are wrapped around the sprocket and idler wheels.

Decals are included for an amazing ONE marking scheme, that being for a tank with the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards during Operation Telic.

According to the drawings in Concord's Challenger 1 & 2, Spearhead of the Royal Armored Corps, by Böhm and Siebert, the major dimensions of this kit are almost exact to 1/72nd scale.

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