Challenging Choices

Wheels for Challenger 2 (type 1 to 4)

OKB Grigorov 1/72, Ref. S72466 to 469

Four types of 1/72 resin road wheels for the Challenger 2 MBT have joined the extensive catalogue of the Bulgarian artisan OKB Grigorov: The main difference resides in the road wheels featuring lightening holes or not (respectively types 3 & 4 vs types 1 & 2), but there are minute differences within the two sub-types, namely with the presence, or not, of loose lug nut indicators.  OKB Grigorov, in terms of accuracy, choice and quality, absolutely leaves nothing to chance!

Review and pictures by Domi Jadoul.

Dutch Landings

WW2 British landings at Weskapelle, November 1944

Black Lion Decals 1/72, Ref. BLD72065

It’s a little-known military operation that Black Lion Decals are covering with this new decal sheet, but it should at least interest quite a few modellers and fans of British military history.  The port of Antwerp in Belgium was very early on considered as crucial to the Allied war efforts and this meant that German troops had to be cleared from the long Scheldt/Escaut river estuary.  This led British troops to land at Westkapelle and Vlissingen on the Northern shores of said estuary on November 1, 1944 for a tough and bloody fight that would eventually secure the access to the Belgian port from the North Sea. 

Armour from the 79th Armoured Division supported the landings and fighting and some of the vehicles used are the subject of this latest decal sheet: M29C weasel, Sherman V, Sherman Crab, Churchill AVRE and Dozer D7, all of which are fairly easily found in 1/72 on the market today.

The markings are printed on a continuous decal sheet and require careful cutting out, one by one.  A coat of Klear (or similar clear varnish) should be applied before the cutting out start as the decals are very thin, and therefore fragile.

Note that those markings are also available from Black Lion Decals in 1/35 Ref. 35036, 35037 and 35038).

Review by Domi Jadoul; pictures by Black Lion Decals.

Unsung Fighter

Warpaint 128: Bristol Scout, by Matthew Wills

Guideline Publications (no ISBN)

Guideline Publications have passed on to us some details about their latest ‘Warpaint’ title, dedicated to the Bristol Scout.  This aircraft was originally designed as a racing plane but ended up being used by the RNAS and the RFC as a ‘scout’, or fast reconnaissance machine, and was one of the first single-seaters to be used as a fighter aircraft. The aircraft saw service in both Europe and the Middle East but by mid-1916 was largely relegated to training units.

This latest book in the Warpaint series has it all: comprehensive historical text, full-colour illustrations, 1/72 scale drawings, kit, decals and accessories list, and of course a selection of photographs that will be essential for any modeller considering a project.  Author Matthew Willis is well-known for his authoritative books on classic British aircraft, and this title follow-up to his earlier volume on the Sopwith Pup to the series.   The artwork has been done by John Fox.

Review by Domi Jadoul, picture by Guideline Publications.

Quarterscale Furtive Fighter

Russian Fifth-Generation Fighter SU-57

Zvezda 1/48, Ref. 4824

It’s a massive box that comes from the East, full of 249 parts in transparent and medium grey plastic, including two main parts representing an almost complete, almost 42cm long, aircraft.  Also in the box, two large decal sheets, a instruction booklet and a separate full-colour painting guide.

The bottom half of the fuselage is however largely missing since the weapon bay, main air intakes and main landing gear bays are separate items.  A large number of stores can be hung inside the weapon bay and/or on the underside of the wings.  The landing gear wells are not particularly detailed (pretty blank in fact for the nose gear bay), but little, if any, will be visible in any case.   On the other hand, landing gear legs and wheels are nicely detailed.

The cockpit is a bit bland, but a number of decals will liven up things, as will the 6-part ejection seat and the 4-part pilot. 

The main air intakes have each their long curved trunking leading to the compressor faces; each trunking is made up of two parts, with joints that may be difficult to eliminate.  There are two options for the (rather well-detailed) exhaust cans, with the possibility of leaving them on the horizontal plane or slightly drooped.

Annoyingly, as can be seen here below, there are a few places where the plastic has caved in, and his will require some remedial work.

Nice touch, Zvezda have included a very nice cockpit access ladder to the kit.

Three painting options are offered: the 9th prototype (T-50-9) that first flew in November 2016, the 10th prototype (T-50-11) that first flew in August 2017 and became the standard for the production series, and a production-series Su-57, all in two-tone digital camouflages.  The great majority of the decals are stencils, meaning silvering could be an issue.

No doubt update and upgrade resin and metal sets will come to improve this lovely kit that is still a little ‘basic’, probably because of the newness and restricted nature of the real aircraft.

Review by Domi Jadoul, pictures by Domi Jadoul and Zvezda

Persian Midget

Iranian Ghadir class submarine

OKB Grigorov 1/350, Ref. 350012

The twelfth release from OKB Grigorov in their rather successful 1/350 naval range is the minute Ghadir-class sub, a class of midget submarines built by Iran specifically for cruising within the shallow waters of the Persian Gulf.  ‘Minute’ or ‘midget’ is relative of course, the real sub is still 29m long, and can still carry two torpedoes and or anti-ship missiles.  As one would expect, few other details are advertised by the operators!

OKB Grigorov’s kit comes in a tiny box and a typical mixed-media form, with three resin parts and nine photo-etched parts (plus a photo-etched display stand). The quality of the resin casting is faultless, the hull is well-detailed (for the scale), but a small instruction sheet would have been helpful for the placement of the smaller resin and metal parts.  

A quality kit of a rather rare and exotic fish!

Review and pictures by Domi Jadoul

The Show must go on!

The IPMS Belgium 2021 National Convention, aka Plastic & Steel, is set to take place, for the tenth time already (it would have been the 11th edition but for Covid-19) in Affligem, on 2-3 October 2021.

Affligem is a Belgian town about 15km to the north-west of Brussels, easily accessible via the E40 motorway between Brussels and the North Sea coast. The venue is only 1 minute away from the motorway exit, with plenty of free car parking space.

Club & trader registration is now open via the Plastic & Steel website, don’t delay too long, as even with a larger exhibition space than in 2019, being what could be one of the first major scale model show to take place in a year in a half, it’s likely to get full really fast!

More info at

Smaller Tracks

Tracks for T-72, Tiger, Panther & KV

OKB Grigorov 1/100, Ref. S100001, S100004, S100005 & S100002

Good news for those hooked by Zvezda’s 1/100 AFV kits, OKB Grigorov has started a range of updates for those lovely little kits, starting with resin tracks for the T-72 MBT and Tiger, Panther and KV tanks.  Excellent quality, as is usual from this Bulgarian artisan.  Care will be required to remove the tracks from their resin runners, but the extra work will be worthwhile. 

Review and pictures by Domi

Farewell Mirage

Mirage 5 BD BD12 ‘Mirage Farewell’ Belgian Air Force 1993

Syhart 1/48, Ref. 48-121 & 1/72, Ref. 72-121

When the Mirage 5 were retired from the Belgian Air Force, a two-seater, BD12, was given a neat overall silver livery adorned with the badges of the squadrons that flew the delta-winged aircraft.  This particular aircraft entered service in June 1971 and was retired in January 1994, to be sold to Chili as ‘725’, where it is now an exhibit at the Aera Cerro Moreno air base in Antofagasta.

French artisan SyHart has had the excellent idea to offer us a decal sheet, in 1/48 and in 1/72, for this specially decorated aircraft. This is a relatively small and simple sheet that includes all special markings and the ‘stencils’ that were left on the aircraft after repainting.  The ‘SyHart’ quality is definitely there.

The recommended kits are, in 1/48, the Mirage III BE/D/DE/DS/D2Z from Kinetic (Ref. K48054) and in 1/72, the Mirage III BE/DS/D2Z/5BD from PJ Productions, to be used along with the MB Mk.10 ejection seats from the same Belgian artisan (Ref. 721210).

Review by Daniel Clamot, pictures by SyHart.

Thai Delights

Royal Thai Army 1930-45

Black Lion Decals 1/72, Ref. BLD72064

It’s a very interesting new decal sheet that Black Lion Decals have just released, featuring markings for several armoured and non-armoured military vehicles operated by the Thai army between 1930 and 1945.  There are a few ‘usual suspects’ amongst the covered subjects, such as the Vickers 6ton and the Carden-Lloyd tankette that made up a large part of the Army vehicles before the outbreak of WW2, and the Japanese Ha-Go as seen in 1945, but the sheet also covers some far more exotic subjects that may require some scratch-building or conversion work on existing plastic, resin and/or metal kits. 

The markings are printed on a continuous decal sheet and require careful cutting out, one by one.  A coat of Klear (or similar clear varnish) should be applied before the cutting out start as the decals are very thin, but therefore fragile.

Review by Domi Jadoul; pictures by Black Lion Decals.

Anti-Aircraft Sewing Machine

Soviet Self Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun

ZSU-23-4M Shilka

Zvezda 1/35, Ref. 3635

Here is a great addition for those interested in Soviet armour, even if it’s not the first one on the market, since Meng released a 1/35 Shilka back in 2016.  The lower retail price of this new kit is certainly a major incentive if considering the making of this vehicle at this scale.

‘Shilka’ is the name of a River in Russia. ‘Zeus’, derived from ‘ZSU’ is a common nickname for the vehicle but it is also known as the ‘Sewing Machine’ because of the noise made by its guns.

Upon opening the box, one finds 6 rather large sprues, plus the bottom hull, cast in a medium grey plastic, plus a decal sheet, a piece of nylon thread for the tow cable and one transparent part for the driver’s windshield.  If the kit appears well designed an shows some really nice details, it can be regretted that an ejection ring mars the inside face of each and every one individual track links, 192 of them… Certainly many will be hidden but concealing the others will take time.

No less than six options are offered with the decal sheet, two Soviet machines (1987 and 1988), plus one each for Russia (2002), East Germany, Hungary and Viet-Nam.  With over 6,500 Shilkas built, having operated in over 40 countries since the late 1960s, the number of other possibilities is almost limitless!

Review by Domi Jadoul, pictures by Domi Jadoul and Zvezda

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