Following on from the other unusual modern releases from Trumpeter (unusual only in the choice of subjects) comes their latest release, The British AS 90, with this addition we now have 2 NATO plastic SPG's, the Revell Pz 2000 being the other. The AS 90 comes moulded unlike Trumpeters other Modern releases, in a light grey plastic, this is presumably to give a neutral base should you want to model an Op Telic vehicle in Sand colour.
The Hull comes in two pieces, an upper and a lower. The lower hull is nicely moulded with the suspension trailing arms being separate items and although keyed for positive location, they can be easily adjusted to show movement in the suspension, if desired.The upper hull detail is nicely done and correct, although some of the details are slightly simplified, there is nothing that needs correcting or replacing and only needs a little refining in some areas, like replacing the moulded handles. The only let down after their other modern kits, are the moulded on tools on the hull side, this makes some of the tools and details a little flat, the tow cable eyes are also moulded in position, with a length of string being provided to represent the cable itself. The drivers hatch is open, but no inside detail is supplied (one for the more adventurous modeller!) The rear door is moulded as part of the upper hull and is unfortunately shut, which is a shame, as there is a lovely open space behind it, just crying out for detail.The lights and travel lock are all separate items to be fixed on, unfortunately the headlight guards are not provided and would need to be fabricated from plastic rod or wire, whichever you prefer.
One thing that did strike me, was the size of the hull when compared to the M109, it looks massive, although compared to the Pz2000 it is smaller.
The turret is also very nicely done, with the correct details, but also here, some of the tools are moulded in place and suffer from the same effects as the hull tools of being a bit flat, the good news is though is that the 3 spades around the turret are separate items and look all the better for it. The 5 bins around the turret are also separate with the lids being separate as well. The commanders and crewman's cupolas are both with open hatches and can be rotated, a nice GPMG is provided, but it is missing the bi-pod that it should have.All the ammunition boxes are provided for the roof and whilst a bit simplified they can be used with a little work.the APU generator on the rear of the turret is a separate piece, nicely moulded with all the cooling ducts/louvre's being present and finely moulded, also on the rear of the turret are the spare track links, these are moulded in place but do not suffer from the same fate as the tools and are moulded in good relief. The turret roof stowage basket is provided as a plastic piece and would benefit from some PE Mesh.
The gun barrel and recuperator housing are nicely moulded and detailed, unfortunately there are two problems with the barrel itself, the first is the gaiter at the base of the barrel is mould straight and lacks the distinctive sag of the real thing. the second is the barrel length, Trumpeter have provided what I presume is the 52 calibre barrel, I say presume as I have no measurements to hand,this is alright, unless you want to model an Op Telic vehicle, which only had the 39 calibre barrel length, this means having to cut approx 11mm from the forward part just in front of the fume extractor, not really a major job and fairly easy to do, but still a pain.
The road wheels are correct as are the sprockets and Idlers, with nicely detailed return rollers. The track is of the link and length variety, with Trumpeter dropping the vinyl track used on the S-tank and the 3 Japanese tanks
Decals are provided for various vehicles, with 9 sets of registration numbers being given, as well as C/S, the omnipresent chevrons and various SFOR and IFOR markings. Unfortunately as usual, Trumpeter have out done them selves and actually show 2 vehicles in the instructions, instead of the normal one, this still leave various decals where good reference is going to be needed for their placement. One day Trumpeter might show diagrams for placement of all of the decals instead of just the one or two that they do now.
I only really have two moans about this kit, one is the barrel, the other is the placement of the decals. Overall i would recommend this kit for all Modern Armour fans, with the exception of the barrel and the moulded on tools, it is a nicely detailed kit. How it all fits together will be the subject of a review to follow soon !
The vehicle scales out at 1/72 according to my references
Jane's Armour and Artillery 1990-91 11th Edition by Christopher F Foss
Jane's Tanks and Combat Vehicles Recognition guide Second Edition by Christopher F Foss