Tamiya #89555 Centurion Mk III
Following my initial impressions posted on the Modern discussion group, this is a more detailed look at the kit. The image is from Tamiya's web site. It is not a new mould but the 1971 kit updated. The old version was previously released as motorised with and without remote control at various times but this is a static model. Main changes are that the motor package is no longer included and the chassis pan moulding has been modified so that the hull sides are solid behind the final drive housings though the fittings inside the hull floor for batteries and holes for switches are still there!
The sprockets now fit onto a metal axle and not to the output of the motorisation pack. Other leftovers from the moving version are the clip-on hull top which can easily be glued fixed, less easy to fix are the extra supports for bazooka plates which added to prevent them being knocked off when batteries were being changed. The gun mantlet offers a small degree of choice with and without canvas cover. One crew figure for the working commander's hatch is included, this is not in the same league as modern figures. In short, the standard of the kit may be described as being good for a thirty-something model but not as good as recent Tamiya releases. Other links with the past are the box artwork which comes from the old remote control version and is a good painting of a Centurion in action, the old motorised only boxtop version appears on the side of the box.
A new instruction sheet in Tamiya's usual style replaces the original detailed booklet which had cutaway drawing and photos of the real vehicle. Background information on the tank deals mainly with it in the Korean War and two small real vehicle photos from that period are included. The other major change is the decal sheet which is totally different. Options for five versions are included and four follow the Korea theme. Clever use of basic markings in fact gives us two variations on two themes. Depicted are -
8th King's Royal Irish Hussars in 1951 with 29th Infantry Brigade markings,two different vehicles can be modelled
5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards (misnamed in the instructions) in 1952 with Commonwealth Division sign
1st Royal Tank Regiment when part of the Commonwealth Division in 1953
These look accurate enough when compared with photos and colour plates in references (see later) but extra work is needed for a totally accurate model. The large box-shaped approach march hood on the glacis should be added to all these vehicles, and if you want the 1RTR version you will also need to add a searchlight over the mantlet and a .5" Browning for the commander.
The fifth vehicle depicted has got me stumped and I cannot identify it, and neither I suspect can Tamiya as they only describe it as "Box art markings". They could well be inaccurate as they include the wartime Guards Armoured Division marking and may have been included to match the old box artwork. The same vehicle was included in the original kit issue decal sheet. Summing up, I would like to have liked see an all-new model though I am not totally disappointed to have this kit back available again. Tamiya will be unlikely to produce new moulds now they have re-released this one, given the standard of their recent releases this is unfortunate. With the Modelcraft version being readily available we were not totally without a 1/35th Centurion either. Perhaps the after-market manufacturers may make a set or two of add-ons to help us model other marks of a widely and long-used tank.
The following were all by Simon Dunstan and are also all long out of print.
Osprey Vanguard 22 - The Centurion Tank in Battle
Osprey Vanguard 27 - Armour of the Korean War 1950
Tanks Illustrated 5 - British Battle Tanks 1945 to the Present
Tanks Illustrated 14 - Tank War Korea
Modern Combat Vehicles: 2 Centurion
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