Friday, 6 March 2009
Great War Belgian Armoured Car Models
One of the features of the Belgian Army in 1914 was its antiquated uniforms and structure. However thanks largely to having a ‘modern’ car manufacturing industry the Belgian Army soon realised the value of armoured cars and they played their part in the early war period before the bogged down attrition of the trenches. An excellent article was written in Wargames Illustrated in September 2008 on these early Belgian armoured car engagements so I don’t want to cover that ground again but advise anyone interested to look at various web sites especially Minerva Armoured Motor car which has many great pictures and detailed history of the Minerva and Sava companies. The other reliable source of info for WW1 model makers is as always Landships on there are a couple of useful pages on Belgian armoured cars including a review of Convoys Minerva armoured car in 1/76 scale. On the web site ‘A Great War in a Different Light’ can be found some excellent photos of mostly Minerva armoured cars.
Now recently I have got hold of 3 Belgian armoured car models. The first is purely a 15mm War Gaming piece representing a Minerva armoured car and is produced by my favourite 15mm wargames figure producer ‘Peter Pig’. In their WW1 range they produce Belgians….’hurrah’ and a very simple metal Minerva armoured car in 8 pieces!! Now admittedly its only 15mm scale so you wouldn’t expect too may pieces especially if you want to retain your sanity! It is basically a one piece casting for the body work and chassis, 4 metal wheels, and 3 crew members as can be seen from the photo below.
I have cleaned and primed this model as I thought I would start with the simplest kit of the three…..good for morale!!
The next two kits I obtained at ‘Trucks and Tracks’ at Folkestone last weekend. It was my main reason for attending and its always nice to visit a show to see other modellers/wargamers work as well as look at the goodies on the stalls.
The Convoy models kit of a Minerva Armoured Car is a proper resin and metal model kit and is a more complex build. The chassis and bodywork come in two resin pieces with interior, exhaust and lights on 3 more resin sprues which have a lot of resin ‘flash’ about each part, the driver crewman is a nice little figure. The wheels and gun are in white metal and are very well cast indeed with good spoke detail not easy to cast I would imagine!
The main problem with the kit on looking at it without detailed knowledge of interiors and dimensions is that the axles are cast in resin and I will replace these with suitable dimension brass rod/thick gage wire for strength. The landships review includes pictures and is definitely worth a look.
Finally a new release is the offering from Retrokit. This is a very professional production with very finely cast pieces for a Automitrailleuse SAVA. The Chassis and main bodywork not including the turret is cast in 1 piece of resin.
with a considerable number of separate components too complete it.
The wheels are a masterpiece being cast in resin with an etched brass fret for the spokes, which if completed correctly will look stunning and advice is given on the instruction sheet for this. I would probably have preferred white metal cast wheels and spokes like in the Convoy kit as I prefer easier lazy builds! But I will give it a go!!
The biggest letdown on all three kits is the instructions!! From none with Peter Pig …but with 8 pieces you don’t need any! to 1 rough exploded diagram for the Convoy and Retrokit kits. This is often the way with these small production run resin/metal kits and it’s a shame more care is not taken with the drawings.
What is great that someone has produced these models in the first place and having seen what other armoured cars took part in WW1 a collection would be fun and Convoy also produce other kits and carry the Tommy Atkins range including a nice Lancaster AC. Really only the Peter Pig model would last being handled in a wargames environment and where ther is a gap in the market is a model of the type produced by Brittania Miniatures in 28mm well cast with enough detail and not too expensive (Retrokit was not cheap!)sadly they just do WW2 & Modern vehicles.
Ralph known for his Blog site concentrating on the Monmouth rebellion and late 16th century period in general has also another blog Ralphadeus on which there is further info on the Belgian army of 1914