Carro Armato L6/40 PRM kit
Reviewed by Cookie Sewell
|Stock Number and Description||Carro Armato L6/40 PRM kit; Italeri 1/35 scale Kit No. 6469|
|Media and Contents:||257 parts (243 in tan styrene, 12 etched brass, 2 clear plastic) plus 48-page history and modeler’s guide|
|Price:||estimated price about US$59|
|Review Type:||First Look|
|Advantages:||first kit of this vehicle in this scale in styrene; partial interior useful as it is easy to open up and show details|
|Disadvantages:||track links very petite and will need care in removing them from the sprues; no engine|
|Recommendation:||Highly Recommended for Italian and North Africa fans|
The Italians had the same basic outlook on armored vehicles prior to WWII and as such created three different classes of vehicles: tankettes (carro veloce) or CV of a nominal three metric tons; light tanks (L) of six metric tons; and medium tanks (M) of 11-14 metric tons. The first were armed with one or two machine guns in 8mm to 13.2mm caliber; the second with a 20mm cannon and machine guns, and the third with 37-47mm guns. But like the prewar American tanks, by the time they went into combat they were woefully obsolete, and the Italians never did catch up with contemporary armored designs before the end of their war in 1943. (They did have some more promising designs on the way but the war ended for Italy before they got into series production and widespread use.)
The best information source so far on this unlucky little vehicle is happily the book which comes with the kit – according to it, by 1943 about 450 of these vehicles were built. Theoretically in the same class as the Soviet T-26, they were closed in concept and capability to the Soviet T-60 and not as well designed. Only a few survived the war and one of them is used in this book as a photo reference for modelers. (The book also includes manual diagrams for those who want to “tweak” the kit, a great idea!)
Italeri made a splash in the modeling world 33 years ago when they released their M13/40 medium tank kit. While it was later noted as having a number of flaws and problems, it was a step ahead of anything else on the market at the time and did make Tamiya wake up to the fact they now had a worthy competitor. (They later produced their own M13/40, and modelers still argue about which one is better on the internet.) But other than the Semovente 75/18 they never produced any other Italian armor kits until today with the release of the L6/40 light tank.
This kit is not as earthshaking as the M13/40 was in 1975, but it is a very nicely done kit in its own right and for fans of Italian armor a “must have.” It comes with an interior for the front part of the hull and the inside of the turret; while the rear engine access doors are separate there is no engine for the engine bay, so that will wait on the after-market boys.
The moldings are of a higher standard than some recent Italeri kits and there is even rivet detail INSIDE the turret shell, as a matter of reference. Most of the ejector pin marks are in inconspicuous places so not a major problem. Some parts such as the 20mm Breda cannon are simplified so perhaps some may want to wait on an after-market detail set.
The tracks are “link and length”, but as with the original are very small and narrow or about the size of 1/72 scale main battle tank sized links. Extreme care will be needed in removing the single links for “wrapping” the tracks though as Italeri has the sprue connections in the center of the sides of the links rather than on their ends. While I think they did this to ensure a good and complete link would be formed, it makes it more difficult to get a clean cut. As these links have to “nest” one inside the one in front of it they also will have to be cleaned up, so plan on taking some time to get it right.
The suspension can be adjusted if desired and left partially working, which can help in installing the tracks but at least with “link and length” will not cause the bowing that other Italeri suspensions caused with vinyl tracks.
There are five different finishing options provided in the kit: 31st Mechanized Regiment, Balkans, September 1943 (tricolor with white rectangles and a cartoon lion); 31st Mechanized Regiment, June 1943 (tricolor with white circles and Mickey Mouse; however on this decal sheet Mickey has gone “blind” as the eyes were left out!); Novara Lancers, North Africa 1942 (sand with eagle insignia and white 2); 67th Bersaglieri Battalion, Russia 1942 (sand and green with blue rectangles); and German Anti-Partisan forces, Balkans 1944 (tricolor with crosses).
From the breakout of the parts the answer is yes, Italeri obviously plans to follow this kit up with the Semovente da 47/32 tank destroyer variant.
Overall the kit is nicely done and while a bit pricey to some does come with the book, which would easily got for $18 or more on its own. With obscure items, kudos to Italeri for using this method of helping modelers get good references with the kit!
A 47 Lower hull details
B 81x2 Suspension and tracks
C 10 Upper hull details
D 8 Turret
E 16 Turret interior and guns
CL 2 Clear styrene
PH 12 Etched brass
Thanks to Ed Sexton of MRC for the review sample