Got most of the lower hull assembly completed today …..
In general it was a pretty straight forward build with no major fit issues. There’s a tiny amount of flash on some parts but it’s an easy cleanup. I differed from the assembly instruction order by first glueing the road wheels together to let them set up while I assembled the hull. The Airfix order fits the smaller subassemblies to the hull floor first but I like to make sure the floor and sides are square and tight before adding any smaller parts.
After the main hull I attached the torsion bar swing arms. A neat touch is that Airfix supplies an assembly jig to set the arms into the correct alignment and ride height. I attached the front and rear arms first and cleaned up a few other parts while they set. Then I attached the middle arms and sat the vehicle down on a glass sheet to ensure that they all were the same height. The instructions want the inner side of the two piece road wheels attached to the swing arms first and then the outer wheel fitted. To me this is allowing too much chance of misalignment which is why I assembled my wheels first. Working quickly I attached all the road wheels and again sat the vehicle down on the flat sheet and let the glue harden.
The tracks are a little tricky. The sprockets and rear idler are not interchangable from side to side so make sure you have the correct ones and get the track direction correct. The links around the drive and idler spokect are the worst feature of the track and so far the kit itself. The joins are much wider than the gap between the moulded links and there is no easy way to correct this as cutting and tightening the links would shorten the track too much to get a join. I’m hoping the joins will be disguised when the track guards and slat armour is fitted.
I mounted the gun just because I wanted to see what it looked like but apart from that it’s ready to add the interior and outer hull details. Looking at the PE set there are some parts I wont use and some I’ll repalce by using either wire or plasticard. PE is nice for grills, box structures and plates but the grab handles and turret lifting lugs look way too thin and one dimensional in PE. A couple of the kit moulded plastic grills have to be carefully cut out and some handles scraped away with damaging other panels and engraved lines, so that’s the trick I need to pull off during the next assembly stage ……