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Staple Food Van

Russian Military Van UAZ 3909

Zvezda 1/35, Ref. 3644

Developped from the very similar-looking UAZ 452, the UAZ 3909 is a 4×4 combi-type vehicle designed for the transport of freight and passengers with emphasis placed on ease of maintenance, excellent cross-country ability and low purchase price. Production of the -452 started in 1965, but the -3909 is ‘only’ dating back to the late 1980s and introduced a few refinements over the earlier models, including better brakes and a more powerful engine. The UAZ-3909 carries 6 passengers and 450 kg of cargo; the rear compartment is separated from the front, driver’s row by a window. Production of the -3909 started around 1990 but the type has since been replaced by newer models that introduced further refinements. This soviet/Russian vehicle carries a nickname that reflects its simple shape, ‘loaf of bread’.

This 1/35 kit is only 12.7cm-long but includes no less than 197 well-detailed parts. The parts are spread out over four light-grey carrier sprues, one more carrying the transparent parts and a single vinyl sprue carrying the four tyres (the spare tyre being loose).

The way the vehicle is kitted is classic ; of note are the separate doors, allowing for an all-opened up model showing off a well-represented interior.

There are several very fine and fragile-looking parts but none of them show any sign of flash. Zvezda have reached a very high standard here again.

The clear plastic sprue evidently carries the windshield, windows and the optics fot the various lights. The mirro faces are provided as chrome stickers.

A small decal sheet allows for the making of one of two vehicles, both Russian, in 2008 (military police) or 2014 (central military district) but frankly, this little kit offers a lot more possibilities since it is used as a jack of all trades by the Russian (and before that, Soviet) army and a number of other armed forces, and is also widely available, including in Belgium, as a civilian vehicle.

Maybe not as ‘sexy’ as a big-gunned T-something, but really tempting all the same !

Review by Daniel Clamot; pictures by Zvezda and Daniel Clamot.

Review sample kindly provided by Zvezda.


3D Servus Imperatoris

Roman Praetorian Centurion 1st-2nd Century A.C.

La Heaumerie du Casque d’Or 1/10 (under licence from Minormous Models)

The Heaumerie du Casque d’Or is a Belgium-based shop specialising in figures and busts. Although a large part of their offer is made up of products from a number of well-known companies, they are also very busy 3D-printing figures and busts under licence from a number of (unfortunately) less-well known and less-well distributed designers, such as Minormous Models.

Minormous are specialising in 3D printable models for tabletop games and display. Amongst the latter category are a number of excellent figures and busts of Ancient Greeks and Romans, such as this 1/10 Roman Centurion.

The kit is made up of 3 parts, head with helmet, bust and a display plinth, all 3D printed in grey resin. The parts have mostly been cleaned up, with just a few little feed dots remaining, and mostly in places where they will be easy to remove, like the underside of the bust.

The print quality is, it must be said, excellent, with on my copy, just a couple of small areas showing a little bit of what we would normally call ‘flash‘ on our plastic sprues. Those will be easy to clean up, but do keep in mind this printing material is rather brittle, so care is still required! However, a massive plus, there are not a single print line to be seen anywhere on any of the parts.

If the printing done by La Heaumerie du Casque d’Or is almost faultless, the design work done by Minormous is first class with, in particular, beautiful details showing on the breastplate and the helmet. The face is very well sculpted too, very expressive and given a neat bout of painting, this bust should turn heads at shows.

Those figure painters interested in Ancient Rome should really give Minormous and, particularly for those living in Belgium or North-western Europe, the 3D prints from La Heaumerie du Casque d’Or a go. They will not regret it.

Review and pictures by Domi Jadoul.

Reiview item kindly supplied by La Heaumerie du Casque d’Or.

Sherman for the few.

M4A2 Sherman 75mm

Zvezda 1/72, Ref. 5063

The latest 1/72 armour kit from Zvezda, this kit is made up of 118 parts cast in the usual ‘Zvezda‘ grey plastic and 2 more (the tracks) in black plastic.

The main features of the kit makes this a late M4A2: 47 degree slope glacis and 75mm turret with the second, oval, hatch for the loader. Although not supposedly required for this build, a set of late-production road wheels (so-called ‘flush‘) and simplified drive sprockets are included. This is good news since pictorial evidence do show some M4A2s equipped with that running gear.

The 47 degree glacis and the lack of skirts implies that early M4A2s as used by the British in North Africa can’t be modelled here.

Although separated from the main turret part, the commander’s cuppola is in one piece, with closed-off hatches. The turret itself appears a little over-complicated in its design, but we will see during actual construction if this is an issue. Let’s remember, though, before complainng too much, that this is a ‘No Glue Required‘ kit mainly aimed at wargamers and newcomers in the hobby. The quality of the kit is however very good, and should be a very decent base for any modeller interested in US armour, or US armour used by the Soviets in particular.

The tracks are each in a single piece of hard plastic, meant to be bent around the idlers and drive sprockets; two pins molded in each track are meant to be inserted in the hull side panels. This system is evidently different from that used by Zvezda on their kits featuring the Christie-style suspension. The system on the M4A2 kit is interesting and, I think, could work very well.

Marking-wise, Zvezda is offering us an US Marines Sherman in the Mariana Islands during 1944 (the US Marines were, basically, the only US users of the M4A2 diesel-powered Sherman) and, evidently, a Soviet vehicle used in the Southern Front during 1944.

Those wanting to show off their Sherman in action on a small diorama can take advantage of Zvezda’s other recent 1/72 release, a box of five US Marines. The figures look very good, I must say.

Review by Domi Jadoul. Photos by Domi Jadoul and Zvezda.

Review samples kindly provided by Zvezda.

Hurricane Oh-la-la..!

Dassault Ouragan MD.450

Miniwing 1/144, Ref. Mini341, 342, 343 & 344

Miniwing had in the past, in 2016 to be precise, offered us a very neat-looking Dassault Ouragan in this scale, but a resin one. This material and possibly its price and relative unavailability from mainstream distributors unfortunately made that kit sightings rather rare.

Having, still quite recently, started to offer injection-molded kits, it is a very pleasurable surprise to see the Ouragan being subjected to this treatment and technology and thus somewhat made a far easier kit to get hold of.

21 grey plastic parts, plus one clear (injected) canopy make up this new Ouragan from this Czech company. We have here a quality short-run kit with impressively regular and restrained (though some may still find that overdone) engraving. The canopy is a little on the thick side but its shape is fairly simple and should be easy to replace by a home-made vac-formed part if needed.

The detail is very good for a kit in this scale and of this size, with a fairly complete cockpit and neat undercarriage bits. For the purists, this kit is a MD.450B, that is one of the ‘late‘ production model Ouragan; only the first 50 aircraft were of the ‘A‘ standard, with a four-door front undercarriage well. This arrangement proved to be troublesome and later aircraft were given a simpler 2-door affair. An early-production Ouragan would not be difficult to model with this new kit.

The new kit is available under four boxings, each chiefly differing in terms of the full colour painting/decaling instructions and, obviously the decal sheet.

Kit reference 341 thus offers us three Israeli machines, kit reference 342 two French Air Force and one Indian Air Force aircraft, kit reference 343 one more French aircraft while kit reference 344 gives us a single, shark-toothed, Salvadorian machine.

Note that the first two references are boxed up and includes two complete kits, white the last two are bagged and only offer a single complete kit. Our sample was a special ‘Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2022‘ release of kit reference 344, coded PF2022.

Those looking for more or alternative markings could consider FFSMC Productions recent decal sheet (Ref. P144-060), while those looking for a little extra ‘help‘ may consider the equaly recent Peewit masks set (canopies and wheel hubs, Ref. M144031). Finaly, those wanting to add some extra details could also consider Shelf Oddity’s PE set, Ref. SO214416, though be aware this was designed for the earlier resin kit. RetroWings should have a resin cockpit detail set ready in 2022.

And if you can find it, an excellent source of references was published in 2006 by Histoire & Collections (ISBN 2-915239-89-4).

In conclusion, it is a very nice addition to the growing and growing range of plastic kits in 1/144. It is a fabulously rich subject for anyone interested in this scale and early jets, French aviation, aerobatic teams, middle-east conflicts and exotic air forces.

Mystere IV and Super Mystere B2 next, Miniwing? In the meantime, more Ouragans can be modified into the Barougan and the lone Ouragan fitted with side air intakes..!

Review by Domi Jadoul, pictures by Domi Jadoul, FFSMC, Peewit, Shelf Oddity and Miniwing.

Review kit kindly supplied by MiniWings.

When just one Spitfire is not enough!

Overtrees by Eduard

It is sometimes frustrating to have a superb box with the decal sheet offering 5 or 6 different liveries while the plastic parts only allow building one model. We would like to have more ‘plastic’ to eventually build a second or third model and thus make the decal sheet profitable, or possibly another decal sheet by the cottage industry.

For this purpose, a solution exists at Eduard: the ‘Overtrees’, which could be translated as ‘surplus sprues’. This option allows you to acquire an additional model at a very democratic price and, why not, even several extra models! You could also call it a ‘white product’ because the box is… all white and contains only the injection-moulded plastic sprues of a specific version; no decals or assembly plans because you already have them with the initial box, whether it is from the ‘WEEKEND’ series, ‘ProfiPACK or a special/limited edition. Obviously, no photoetch no masks either. No problem though if you are fond of photoetch and/or masks, these items are available and can be ordered at the same time you order ‘Overtrees’.

For the recent Spit Mk.Vb in 1/48 scale for example, no less than 4 different ‘Overtrees’ boxes are available. Each box is dedicated to a specific version of this aircraft and only provides the sprues typical to this version, even if there are always parts not to be used that will enrich your spares box. Let’s have a closer look:

Ref. 82155X: Spitfire Mk.Vb early, with half fuselages for an aircraft fitted with the externally mounted windscreen armour and the underside of the wings fitted with the narrow, symmetrical blister for the 20mm cannon of early versions. 6 injected plastic sprues into the box.

Ref. 82159X: Spit Mk.Vb mid, with the same half fuselages but the lower wing now has the wider, non-symmetrical blister of the later versions (6 sprues).

Ref. 82156X: Spit Mk.Vb late, with the half-fuselages provided this time for the versions equipped with the windscreen of which the armour is mounted internally, the lower wing being the same as for the mid version (6 sprues).

Ref. 82157X: Spit Mk.Vb Trop, which provides an additional sprue for parts specific to the “tropical” version, such as the large sand filter under the nose of the aircraft. The fuselage halves are the ones for the windscreen with internal armour and the lower wing is the one equipped with the larger, non-symmetrical blister as on the mid and late versions (7 sprues).

Each box costs a little less than € 13, which should allow the Spitfire Mk.Vb enthusiasts to build almost a complete squadron at a very democratic price… These boxes are however (in principle) not available in the hobby shops and can only be ordered from Eduard’s website . Their availability is also limited in time.

Good to know: the assembly instructions can be downloaded from the same website, it’s free. If you print it (it is A4 size), it will give you an excellent working tool on which you can cross out all the unneeded parts, scribble on it or make useful annotations; very practical a.o. if you are building two or more models of the same aircraft at the same time… and they have subtle differences.

Review and picture by Didier Waelkens

Totally Marchetti.

SF-260 Duo Pack & Book

Special Hobby 1/72, Ref. SH72451

This Duo Pack recently released by Special Hobby allows for the making of two 1/72 SF-260s, in any of the following versions : M/M+/AM/D/W/WL.

The box art is simply gorgeous but the contents of the box is even better : there are of course two SF-260 kits, each in a ‘neutral’ box ; Box A includes, along with the common sprues that can be found in Box B, two inection clear ‘bulged’ canopies (suitable for the M, AM and W versions, resin Matra rocket pods (version W), a pair of gunsights and their mountings and a set of exhaust pipes for the Rhodesian SF-260 W.

Box B has no extra resin bits but brings in a single ‘flat’ canopy suitable for the Belgian SF-260 M.

All parts plastic or otherwise are cleanly moulded and do not show any flash.

A small PE set offers details for the Rhodesian gunsight mountings, ventral antenna seen on Rhodesian and Tunisian birds and TACAN antennas.

Kabuki-style masks are also included, one set for the SF-260 M+ and two others for the other variants.

Two decal sheets are part of this Duo Pack ; the first one includes stencils and seat belts (great add-on I think given the small scale and it saves us having to purchase additional aftermarket bits) ; the second sheet is full of a large number of national markings for :

SF-260 M+ of the Belgian Red Devils aerobatic team (5th Sqn, 2015) ;

SF-260 W of the Rhodesian Air Force (4th Sqn, Tornhill, 1978);

SF-260 W of the Fuerza Aeriana Boliviana, 1980;

SF-260 D of the Turkish Air Force, Izmir Cigli AFB, 2011;

SF-260 D belonging to the Sky West Aviation Inc Trustee, Albuquerque, NM, USA;

SF-260 AM of the 70 Stormo, Aeronautica Militare Italiana (2005 special 70 Stormo 50th anniversary scheme);

SF-260 WL of the Free Libyan Air Force, circa 2018;

SF-260 W, of the 14th Sqn, Tunisian Air Force (temporarily based at Latina, Italy in July 2008).

As if this was not enough, the Pack includes the excellent Duke Hawkins book on the subject, ‘SIAI Marchetti SF-260 flying with Air Forces around de World‘ (HMH Publications, ISBN 978-2-931083-06-2). This publication offers a wealth of info and of course pictures of the aircraft in use around the world and of all the important bits that could interest any scale modeller wanting to detail further the nice Special Hobby kits. Thistitle was reviewed a little while back on this Blog :

SF-260 Bible

This is a truly fantastic product that will more than please any fan of the SF-260.

Review by Daniel Clamot ; pictures by Special Hobby & Daniel Clamot.

Review sample kindly provided by Special Hobby.

Sleek Air Bus

Airbus A350-900
Zvezda 1/144, Ref. 7039

The sleek-looking Airbus A350 is the latest of Zvezda’s airliner kits to reach us. The A350 is a very large airplane destined to replace the A330/340 family (and by the same token, compete with Boeing’s 777s and 787s). Made up of over 50% in composite materials, it features the latest and current best in terms of propulsion and aerodynamics, including some new and nifty high-lift devices. Two variants are currently offered and have been operational for a handful of years now, the initial and ‘basic’ A350-900 and the larger, follow-up -1000. Some other variants, including a shorter -800, have been studied and shelved, while others are still being developped (the even larger -1100 and the Freighter in particular).

It is the basic -900 that Zvezda is offering us in a very large box (the fuselage is already over the 45cm – long mark). A great number of the 130 parts deal with the undercarriage and can if wanted, be placed in the spare parts box since Zvezda is giving us as an option what it takes to represent the aircraft in flight. A decently detailed cockpit is offered too.

The fuselage halves are pierced so that clear side windows can be installed from the inside, a fashion I do not personally like much, but there you go. Said clear window parts are to be shortened for the making of this A350-900, hinting at the future release of the longer-fuselaged -1000. I assume the larger wings of the -1000 will then be offered too.

The central box is mostly integral part of the wings, which, again, to me, is a little bit annoying, possibly requiring the removal or at least ‘toning down’ of two joint lines under the fuselage. Zvezda’s kits are very precise though and this should not be too much of a pain to deal with.

The engines are very neatly done and detailed even if the inside ‘sleeve‘ of the intake is still made up of two parts and therefore still requiring seams to be eliminated. Slide-mold technology would have been useful here. Separate nacelle lips are a plus point, though.

It is all in all a very neat product that should greatly be appreciated by the airliner modellers all over the world given the popularity of the real thing (900+ orders and at least 39 operators worldwide so far). Zvezda’s initial release gives us a unique livery option, nice and clean-looking, that of Aeroflot’s, along with a good amount of stencilling. Windshield and side windows outlines are also provided (which could be a pain if also using Clearfix or similar product to fill in the side windows). Alternatives liveries, along with replacement windows, doors and windshields, are already available from a number of decal manufacturers. If you have the spare space at home, be sure to treat yourself to this lovely kit.

Review by Domi Jadoul; pictures by Domi Jadoul & Zvezda. Kit kindly provided by Zvezda.

Staple Warrior

Soviet Main Battle Tank T-62

Zvezda T-35, Ref. 3622

Long after Tamiya (1988!) and even after Trumpeter (2009), it is Zvezda’s turn to offer us a very nice T-62, backbone of the Soviet tank force for almost one fifth of a century, and familiar silhouette of countless conflicts all over the globe since 1969.

344 plastic parts await you in the typical top-opening, sleeved up, Zvezda box; some of those parts are really fine and will require some care while taking them off the sprues. There are not many options offered with this kit, it is a basic early Soviet T-62. A number of clear parts are included to help represent the various optics, while the tracks are made of longer and shorter sections (some showing a little, welcome, sag) complemented by individual links for the curvy bits.

The decal sheet is simple but gives a large number of possibilities in terms of tactical numbers and in the end, a large, welcome, number of additions for the spare box.

If some particular items, like the mantlet dust cover, appear a little over-complicated, and if this is what some may call a no-frill kit, with no metal barrel, no resin add-ons, no photo-etched parts, this still looks like a very good, decently priced, base for any modeller interested in Soviet armour. No doubt the cottage industry is already busy designing detail sets and conversion kits to match this new addition to the Zvezda catalogue.

Review by Domi Jadoul; photos by Zvezda and Domi Jadoul

Spitfire.. it’s all in the detail!

Spitfire Story: The Sweeps (Spitfire Mk.Vb)

Eduard, Dual Combo Limited Edition 1/48, Ref. 11153

After the launch of the Spitfire Mk.II in early 2021, it was only logical that the Mk.V version should follow and this was recently the case with a first box dedicated to the Spit Mk.V flown by American pilots in the RAF and USAF (Eagle’s Call box, dual combo, Ref. 11149). Eduard did not stop there, however, and in November came up with a new special edition, the subject of this review.

The Spitfire Mk.V was the successor to the Mk.I and II on the assembly lines. In fact, at the beginning, it was more a question of reconverting old Mk.I and II into Mk.V with essentially a new, more powerful engine, initially the Merlin 45. This version was mainly declined in three models distinguished by their armament: the Mk.Va with four Browning .30 (7.7 mm) machine guns per wing as on the Mk.I and IIa, the Mk.Vb with two machine guns and a 20 mm Hispano cannon and the Mk.Vc with two 20 mm cannons. Construction of the Mk.V began in early 1941 and did not end until November 1943 at Westland in Yeovil, the aircraft being used until almost the end of the war. Some 6.500 Mk.Vs were produced, of which more than 60% were Mk.Vb. During this rather long period, many modifications or improvements were made and incorporated on the assembly lines without changing the model designation, some improvements being retrofitted to older airframes.

Given the commonality of many parts with the Mk.II, it was to be expected that the Mk.V version would (quickly) follow. Thus, the A (transparent parts), C, P, R and S sprues are common to both releases (many parts will go into the spares box). Although it is not written on the box, it is a “ProfiPACK” production, so next to the injection-moulded plastic sprues, there is also a coloured photoetched wafer and a set of masks for the wheels, gun sight and cockpit glass parts. And this edition offers you enough to build two complete models!

No less than 10 options are proposed on the decal sheet covering the period from July 1941 to October 1943. Knowing that during this period a lot of modifications were made on the assembly lines, this means that Eduard planned many options. It is therefore almost imperative to make a choice very early in the process as to which aircraft you want to build. As far as options are concerned, one can choose between two different fuselages for the simple reason that Eduard supplies both the windscreen with armoured glass on the outside and the one where it is mounted on the inside; two different wing bottoms are also available, with the small, symmetrical blister for the 20 mm cannon on the early models and the same larger, non-symmetrical blister on the later versions. Other options include standard or clipped wingtips, different wheel rims, different canopies, different propellers and spinner… You will also note the separate ailerons, elevators and rudders (but not so in the case of the flaps), the choice of open or closed canopy, and the same choice for the small cockpit access door.

Three decal sheets are provided. The main one contains all the markings for the 10 liveries, while a smaller one, in double copy, contains everything needed for the service markings.
The first two aircraft still carry the Dark Green & Dark Earth camouflage (92 & 611 Sqn), the others being painted in Dark Green & Ocean Gray: 313 (Czechoslovak) Sqn, 602 Sqn, 340 (Free French) Sqn with the white stripes of the aborted Rutter Ops, 303 (Polish) Sqn, 453 Sqn RAAF, 132 Sqn and 401 Sqn RCAF, the last two being Mk.Vs with the windscreen armour fitted internally.

And Eduard did not forget us Belgians with the Mk.Vb serial BM564 MNJ of the 350 (Belgian) Sqn at RAF Redhill in the summer-autumn of 1942. This aircraft is a “Presentation Spitfire” which was paid for by a fund-raising campaign in the Belgian colony and bears, as a sign of recognition, the name “LÉOPOLDVILLE” on the left engine cowling.

Well done! What a magnificent model. One is in awe of the research work that has been done when one sees the very subtle differences between the proposed liveries.

Note: on p. 8 of the manual, there is a typo regarding the choice of the half fuselages. This has since been corrected in the manual available on the Eduard website at .

Review by Didier Waelkens; pictures by Didier Waelkens & Eduard.

Camel with a Difference

Sopwith Camel & ‘’Brownie’’

Suyata, Ref. SK002

Following the release of their chibi-style Fokker Triplane, Honk Kong-based Suyata have brought us a follow-up Sopwith Camel kit, also featuring a caricaturised figure, namely the pilot sometimes still credited for downing the Red Baron, Roy Brown.

The caricaturised look of the aircraft is very good, better than that of the Fokker Dr.I, but of course that’s my opinion. The kit is made up of 10 sprues moulded in no less than 6 different colours, plus two almost complete fuselage halves and separate interior structure to which we can also add one clear plastic sprue and two, complete this time, clear fuselage halves.

An instruction booklet and a small decal sheet complete the offering. All those goodies are (barely!) fitting into a fairly large and attractively designed box.

Another feature of this series of kit is the provision of a very comprehensive interior, obviously including a pretty good representation of the cockpit but also, as indicated earlier, the structure of the fuselage. Most of this will be invisible once the model is assembled and painted, unless of course the clear fuselage option is used. One issue with this option will be very large and visible locating plugs in the bottom of the fuselage.

The engine is made up of four parts, including, a bit annoyingly, two main halves with the cylinders. However the joint between the two parts is very good and all in all, largely invisible once the cowling has been installed.

The fit of the parts is in general excellent, reminding us of how Gundam kits are designed. The ‘metal’ parts (moulded in red plastic) of the front fuselage (if using the non-clear option) will however be tricky to add to the rest of the fuselage, because there are a number of ‘interior detail bits’ that need to stick out of the fuselage skinning. It may be an easier option to use the complete clear fuselage halves, though of course those would require some paint all over their insides in order to avoid any see-through phenomenon later.

The instructions show the parts to be added next into their actual plastic colour, which is actually quite helpful, even for an ‘old hand’.

The wings are each made up of top and bottom halves, with separate ailerons (also each made up of two parts). The whole affair, including the red cowling bits, the green fuselage,.. is obviously designed so that newcomers in the hobby do not need any painting to complete the build. The kit’s price and to be honest the relative high number of parts may however be better suited to modellers with at least a little bit of experience.

The figure is made up of 10 parts in hard plastic (the Fokker’s figure included some softer plastic bits), including a cat’s head sticking out of the pilot’s breast pocket. Not sure if Roy Brown had a soft spot for cats, or if this just a Suyata’s Public Relations gimmick (a Chinese-speaking feline does feature in the instruction booklet).

The decal sheet only offers the markings of Roy Brown’s aircraft. Alternative markings will need to be found in the spare box. It is a pity that Suyata did not include the instrument faces as decals: their size will make it hard for most of us to find suitable spare ones.. Suyata could also have provided some seat belts, the only other thing missing from the cockpit.

Nevertheless, this is an impressive kit, building up into an impressive chibi model. Suyata have just released a third opus in this series, the SPAD XIII (with Eddie Rickenbacker); let’s hope they do not stop at that!

Review and pictures by Domi Jadoul.