Just like English Buses, I have been waiting for the first Trumpeter Challenger 2 to arrive and then all 3 turn up at once ! but the big question on my mind is "was it worth the wait"?? we shall see !
With the Challenger 2 and the Iraq war version already available from Dragon ( although they have labeled their C2 as a KFOR version even though it is missing the added Armour)which has more than enough problems of it's own, I waited with anticipation for the Trumpeter kit, after all their 1/35 kit is not supposed to be all bad? Having seen the box tops a long time ago something struck me as being out of place on the turret with the kit, but I thought I would wait until I had the kit actually in my hands before making an assessment. The kit is broken down in a similar way to the Dragon kits, Unfortunately the hatches are moulded as shut, (they are on the Dragon kit as well, only the hatches are with the exception of the loaders hatch supplied separately, so at least with a bit of work there is the possibility of opening them) I have done a separate comparison between the Dragon and Trumpeter kits showing the best and the worst of both of them which can be found HERE. Also included are some unusual parts in the Iraq Version which I will leave until last !
So back to the Trumpeter kit.The hull is basically incorrect and out of proportion, The engine deck is basically the correct size, although the details are very simplified, the large engine access hatch behind the turret is the same siz as the Dragon kit which is too small ! Trumpeter have achieved this by extending the front hull and moving the turret further to the rear and by doing this this has thrown just about every detail on the hull out, the exhausts are too far back which has the effect of shortening the stowage bins which are now too small. A comparison of the two hulls can be seen below measured against the Tankette Drawings.
The underside of the hull is nicely detailed in one piece with all the wheels being in the correct position and having the correct spacing, the hull front and rear plates are separate parts mounted on the sprues.
Looking at the Turret from this angle it looks great, all the details are there, the sight housing has the correct shape and of the correct size, all the details are there and in the correct place, although the antenna mounts could be better, you would think well done Trumpeter !
Unfortunately when it is turned to look at it from the side ! Well they got the rear of the turret sides correct, in that the stowage bins run straight until just before the rear where they then angle down, not like the Dragon kit and others where the bins themselves angle downwards, Trumpeter even got the turret sides at the correct 4 degrees off Vertical so that they slope inwards towards the roof. So what is wrong?? the Roof ! it looks like it has been squashed
This alone might not have been so bad but it has also put the front out as well, making the frontal armour plates bigger than they should be.
The photo shows the comparative roof heights on the Challenger 2
The kit is broken down almost exactly the same way as the Dragon kit, right down to the detail moulded in place on the rear hull plate, namely the rear light clusters, spare track, towing eye and the funny bit for connecting two straight bars to one tow eye, the extra fuel drums differ slightly. As can be seen the commanders hatch is shut as is the loaders, the Gun mount and TOGS housing is better having the correct size and shape and the gun barrel is nicely represented, although where the Dragon gun was a 1/4 of a turn out, the Trumpeter seems to be 1/8 of a turn, this is to make the thermal sleeve on the barrel line up properly, of course this means having to reposition the MRS
The extra parts for the Iraq version, as can be seen the sand skirts are separate as is the out side of the forward armour along the side, this is because the Armour differs in this area between the Iraq and KFOR vehicles. Also included in plastic are the front thermal recognition panels.
The KFOR version includes a very nice Dozer blade, which until now was only available in Resin from CMSC, the blade seems to be positioned in the down position although it shouldn't be too hard to position it as being raised as it is just a question of altering the piston. The only other thing is that not all KFOR Challengers mounted a Dozer blade, those without mounted the normal nose armour. The only thing missing are the two small tool bins for mounting the side armour which are often seen on KFOR vehicles.
Trumpeter provide an impressive array of decals for each kit with the Basic version having the most the order below is from left to right Iraq version, Base version, Numbers from the base version and below the KFOR decals, with the base version it should be possible to make any number plate going, but as usual for Trumpeter they provide only one option in the instructions, so references will be needed for 90% of the other decal options available
The tracks are the black vinyl type, which although it states in the instructions that they can be glued with plastic cement. I haven't found one yet that will !! so far I have tried Humbrol, Revell Contacta, EMA Plastic weld and Slaters MEK-PAK, none of which have worked.
Now for the unusual mystery items in the Iraq version
If anyone knows where these fit on the Challenger, please let me know ! It seems odd that these pieces are included together as the armour is from the M4 and the gun cradle from the M4A3, oh well they will come in handy for the Hat Sherman's.
Challenger 1&2 Concord mini colour by Walter Boehm and Peter Siebert
Challenger Squadron Europa Militaria by Simon Dunston
Challenger 2 Article Tankette 32/6 and 35/6 by A. Crutchley
Various Challenger 2 article that have appeared in Military Modelling over the years