|Kit #: R72001M||Construction review by Rob Haelterman|
by the honorary president of IPMS/Belgium, I decided to build the
kit as "APACHE", an M24 of the Belgian Army, or more specifically
the vehicle used by the Platoon Cdr of the 1st platoon of A Squadron,
1 Jagers te Paard during a parade at Arnsberg in 1952. The vehicle
was extensively researched by our erstwhile editor, Marc Mercier,
and the decals are available from Aleran.
Not much needs to be said about the turret. Fit is as good as it gets in this scale. Points of possible interest are
Specifically for APACHE, I needed the following modifications
note that at least one Belgian M24 had a modification of the antenna
base at the turret right front.
Lower Hull and Suspension
The lower hull goes together well, if some care is taken. Detail is absolutely amazing.
While the modeler can choose between two lower glacis plates, one with and one without the adapter plates for the amphibious pontoons (which were mostly just plugged with bolts on operational vehicles as in the kit parts), you only get the option of installing the adapter plates for the rear, or plugging them with whatever suits your fancy. I feel that OKB should have at least given flat plates to fill the gaps, or better, given a complete plate as was done for the front. As my vehicle didn't have these plates, I filled the recesses with plasticard and smoothened them out. Obviously, I should have done this before actually installing the rear plate, but I wasn't thinking ahead far enough.
Note that according to , these attachments were introduced in November 44, while  mentions a gradual introduction between October 44 and January 45.  on the other hand claims they are attachment points for a bulldozer blade.
itself is superbly rendered, with many separate and delicately detailed
parts, that will make it possible to articulate the suspension and
adapt it to rough terrain with only a little work.
Having the Mammoth Edition, I could choose between plastic idlers and resin idlers. The resin idlers have the advantage of having the typical slots cut out in the rim, while the plastic parts lack them. While the extra detail is nice, I feel that the detail of the resin parts is actually slightly inferior due to some irregular casting of the rim.
The plastic drive sprockets are also very nice, but I discovered that I needed to add a little spacer to the central drum as the sprockets turned out slightly too narrow for the tracks.
The tracks are very delicately done (and are among the best link-and-length tracks that I have seen) and will require some dexterity to install. The kit comes with far too many single links, which is a blessing as
installing the single links to the sprocket: I discovered that I needed
to cut down the guide horns by half to make them fit (which is nothing
to worry about, as you won't see them there anyway) and had to thin
down the teeth of the sprockets that engaged the track links. Be careful
when applying glue on the teeth as there are slots on the central
drum through which the glue can run and mar the detail on the faces
of the sprockets.
Construction of the upper hull didn't reveal any particular issues; the upper and lower hull are a near perfect fit. (Be careful to keep the lip between the lower and upper glacis: it's supposed to be there.) Some minor sanding was needed, but as there are delicate bolts on the engine deck near the joint, this is not an easy task in this area. In the end, I decided to shave off the bolts to be able to get a smooth joint and build up the bolts afterwards from sprue, sanded down to size. Admittedly, the result is not up to the standard of the original kit bolt
some trouble making the front of the fenders conform to the hull perfectly.
In the end, I removed the small vertical segments and replaced them
with better fitting bits of plasticard.
I raised the vent covers (parts C8) on the engine deck just a little bit by adding a very thin plastic strip between the hull and the cover. As I had glued them on in an early stage, I temporarily removed them while fixing the joints and bolts on the engine deck.
Another thing that I changed in a late stage, was the basket at the rear of the hull. I forgot to check the PE parts when gluing the (rudimentary) plastic basket, but, in the end, felt that the PE version was far superior, though difficult to assemble; it ended up slightly bent, which I believe would have happened to the real thing as well after a few days in the field. Note that some vehicles had a different type of basket (actually, more a type of shelf) in this position.
off the side skirts as they were omitted on APACHE (as they often
were, especially after the war). Note that the bolt pattern to accept
these skirts is still seen when the skirts are removed completely.
The kit fenders (B2 and B3) don't have this bolt pattern, though.
easiest solution is to carve away the unwanted bits of the kit skirts
(parts B31 and B32) along a panel line, leaving only a strip with
The three bolts above each fender flap were made with Archer rivets.
I feel that the bolts on the glacis maintenance hatch are nicely done, but stand too proud as the real bolts were (partially) countersunk. Small handles were added, as they are rather prominent on the real tank. The small footholds for the lower glacis were not used, as APACHE was not equipped with them.
While building the kit, one of the lifting rings was ritually offered to the carpet monster. I made both lifting hooks on the glacis from lead wire. Another part that went AWOL was one of the latches for the driver's and radio operator's hatches. Having lost one out of four, I had to leave them all off. (Both hatches can be positioned open, by the way, but then some interior needs to be created, or figures used to plug the hatches.)
I tried hard to use the photoetch headlight guards (parts 9, 10 and 12) and failed utterly to get them to look right. (I take all the blame for that.) I finally settled for thinned down plastic guards (they really are too thick for their own good) and only used the PE supports (parts 11).
that some Belgian vehicles (but not APACHE) had an extra antenna mount
instead of the bow machine gun and some had a big box on the left
While the kit MG is not bad at all, the PE update will lift it to a higher level. That is... if you have the skills, which I clearly lacked. Not only did I lose many parts to the carpet monster, but I also destroyed others or failed to glue them on properly. In the end, only the following parts were used from the PE sheet:
The barrel was replaced with a metal barrel from Schatton. The whole gun was positioned pointing upwards as seen on many Belgian Chaffees. In order to be able to mount it that way, the plastic gun mount was repositioned and thinned down. As it is molded integrally with the MG, this requires some dexterity. Using the PE holder would have been a far easier option had I not managed to lose it..... ***sigh***.
The bad weather windscreen was installed in the stowed position and the glass made from clear styrene as it is not included in the kit.
The rack that OKB Grigorov provides for the tools on the right fender is different from what is seen on the real tank; a detail that I caught too late. Straps to hold the tools in place are also missing (which could easily have been included in the PE set of the Mammoth Edition). The latter were made from aluminium foil.
In hindsight, I should have drilled out the headlights and made the lenses from Krystal Klear. Having already glued them on the tank, the next best thing was to flatten the front, put some silver paint on the surface and add a drop of Future to make a lens.
Painting and markings
As mentioned earlier, the tank was painted as APACHE in 1952. The green was mixed from different paints until it looked right and decals were custom made by Aleran. (If you want some yourself, feel free to contact them.) The markings were originally applied for a parade but kept for a short while afterwards, so a little bit of weathering can be tolerated.
Modelers interested in other schemes or diorama settings need to take into account that the tank only reached operational status in December 1944 .
The diorama represents a section of heavily worn tank track, made in the following manner:
Looking at the diorama, I think I should perhaps add a few figures to balance it out and draw attention to the small size of the vehicle.
For those among us that really want to go crazy with
this kit, what about this picture ?
Chaffee in detail, K. Frantisek & M. Velek, Wings & Wheels
Preview sample obtained through IPMS Belgium.