I mainly build 1/72 aircraft, but have a fondness for AFV’s as well. As a kid in the 1970’s I always wished there were small-scale kits of early WW2 British subjects like the A13. It’s been a long wait, but a couple of years ago S-Model came to my rescue at least, aided by Dan Taylor Modelworks.
The S-Model twin-pack kit of the A13 Cruiser Mk.III seems a good quality offering that sits right on the threshold between fast assembly wargames model and scale replica. Moulding compromises mainly affect the suspension, with solid single road wheels rather than divided pairs, and solid drive-sprockets and idlers lacking in any slot for the track guide-teeth. There is also some prominent rivet detail missing on the side faces of turret and hull due the moulding approach used. Also, the air-filter boxes are closed at both needs and lack air-filter detail, and the commander’s cupola is a little soft on detail. However, other moulded detail is crisp enough, parts fit is good, the 2-pdr gun barrel has a hole in its muzzle, and there are some nice PE details covering turret lifting eyes, turret side handles, antenna base and centre light surround.
I thought I would enhance my model using Dan Taylor Modelworks detail set (there’s one for the Cruiser Mk.III and a similar set to convert the Mk.III to a Mk.IV with spaced turret armour). Dan Taylor also offers a suspension set for the kit. I bought all of these sets thinking that they would address the kit’s weaknesses almost entirely; which to be fair, they do essentially.
The Mk.III detail set is indeed quite good, and I’d rate the PE being very good, although no air-filter detail is provided despite some PE items being shown in the instructions. The set is let down by its resin parts which are a bit mediocre in terms of detail and of rather poor quality overall. I used the lifting eyes, fire-extinguishers, and the top parts of the turret hatch after filing them thinner. I discarded the smoke-grenade dischargers as they were poorly cast.
I used just the road wheels from the suspension set, although these some had flaws in their tyres and were not completely round. The resin track had been mastered using lengths of kit parts, as joins between sections and injection mould seams were still evident, and there were numerous short-shot or broken guide teeth. The idlers and drive sprockets were slightly let down by air-bubbles in the track detail and excessive attachment to their casting blocks, but were useable. I did not use them as I chose to retain the better kit track. It was not worthwhile cutting the loop of kit track to attach resin drive sprockets and idlers once I’d improved the kit parts by grinding a track-guide groove into them.
Dan Taylor’s A13 sets are still welcome and generally worthwhile; although I increasingly have my doubts about the suspension set. The price of one suspension set cost me only slightly less than the twin-pack kitset (€11.61 for one suspension set versus €15.00 for two A13 kits). For a lot less money you could sacrifice a kit and use two sets of kit suspension to make one good set – Simply grind the tracks off one set of wheels and cut circumferential slots in the tyres of the now freed wheels, and grind the solid single wheels off the other pair of tracks, and replace them with your modified wheels.
Of course, the suspension set would be far better, and worth its price in time saved, if the resin parts were mastered and cast to the standards realised by the several central & eastern European producers. Despite my criticism of the resin parts, I remain grateful that we have Dan Taylor Modelworks offering the detail and conversion sets it does. It’s a lot easier to be a critical user than it is an accessory set producer faced with production and marketing constraints.
My build progress so far is covered off by the following images: