Meng, 1/35 scale
Reviewed by Brett Green
|Stock Number and Description
||Meng Kit No. TS-002 - British Heavy Assault Tank A39 Tortoise
|Media and Contents:
||474 parts in dark green plastic, 144 brown plastic parts for the individual track links and a length of string
||TBA. Will be available from Lucky Model and retailers worldwide
||First time this vehicle has been available as a 1:35 scale injection moulded kit; high level of detail; convincing surface textures including extensive cast effect; excellent mouding quality; individual link tracks.
||Meng’s 1:35 scale A39 Tortoise will be a big and impressive model when finished but its relatively large components mean that it should not be a particularly fussy build.
Modellers of a certain age will probably associate Morris with small cars from the inter-war years until the 1970s including the Morris Oxford, Morris Minor, Morris Mini and even the infamous Morris Marina.
However, Morris Motors’ parent company, The Nuffield Organisation, also boasted an essential role during the Second World War building Spitfires at an enormous new purpose-built plant at Castle Bromwich, as well as designing and building armoured cars and tanks.
Even at the outbreak of war in 1939, it was clear that British tanks were too lightly armed and armoured to deal with the new generation of armour deployed by Germany. By 1943, Allied armies advancing through Italy encountered stubborn obstacles on the Siegfried Line, and there were no answers available in the current British arsenal. This led to a Joint Memorandum for a heavy assault tank with sufficient armour and firepower to clear such obstacles and break through heavily fortified lines.
The Nuffield Organisation responded with no less than 18 designs. In February 1944, one of the heaviest was selected to directly enter production without even building a prototype. 25 vehicles were ordered but ultimately only six were built prior to the project’s cancellation.
This heavy assault vehicle was the A39 Tortoise. The A39 was fitted with a 32 pdr 94 mm main gun that was capable of demolishing heavy obstacles. A fully rotating turret on the superstructure roof was fitted with two Besa machine guns, and a further independently operated Besa gun was located in the hull front. The Tortoise weighed 79 tons, carried a crew of seven and armour was up to 229 mm thick.
Its Rolls-Royce Meteor V12 petrol engine could drive this monster at a stately 12 mph on the road, and 4 mph cross-country.
Despite its great weight and bulk, the Tortoise proved to be both reliable and an excellent gun platform on trials in Germany after the end of WWII. However, the vehicle was never built in production quantities and it remained a technological curiosity along with the other super-heavy tanks of the mid 1940s.
F i r s t L o o k
Meng Model has now brought this curiosity to life with an injection moulded 1:35 scale kit of the A39 Tortoise. The kit was designed in cooperation with the Tank Museum, which houses a running example.
Underneath the attractive box art lie 474 parts in dark green plastic, 144 brown plastic parts for the individual track links and a length of string. There are no decals or other multimedia parts.
The upper and lower hull parts are enormous. The width of the upper hull is particularly striking. Transporting this vehicle by road or rail would have presented some very serious challenges! Apart from its dimensions, the next thing you will notice about the upper hull is the heavy cast texture. This looks really good straight out of the box. I don’t think that I will need to enhance this texture when I build my Tortoise.
The majority of the plastic parts make up the eight suspension units and tracks. There are two styles of suspension unit – A and B – and two of each are fitted to each side. Each unit is made up from four road wheels and four return rollers. The tracks are very wide and each one is quite long too, which is good news as it means that only 62 links are required for each side. The plastic links are perfectly moulded on the inner and outer surfaces too, with no ejector pin circles to clean up.
The long gun barrel is supplied as a single plastic piece, while the counterweight / muzzle brake is split into upper and lower halves. The distinctive ball mantlet will permit elevation and traverse after assembly.
The bulky towing hooks, hatches and the Besa gun turret are all workable too.
Instructions are laid out over 23 clearly illustrated steps in a glossy booklet. No decals are provided. The colour callout is overall Olive Drab, which would have been the British equivalent colour SCC 15 – probably a little greener than US Olive Drab.
C o n c l u s i o n
Meng’s 1:35 scale A39 Tortoise will be a big and impressive model when finished but its relatively large components mean that it should not be a particularly fussy build. This kit might launch a whole new armour modelling genre too – Royal Armoured Corps 1946!
Meng Model seems to be off to a flying start with its first few armour kits. I look forward to seeing what is up next.
Thanks to Meng Models for the sample www.meng-model.com
Text and Images by Brett Green
Page Created 2 September, 2012
Page Last Updated
3 September, 2012