Kit: No. 00324
Manufacturer: Trumpeter, distributed by Stevens International, P.O. Box 126, Magnolia, NJ 08049, 856-435-1555
Comments: Injection molded, 318 parts (21 vinyl), decals
Pros: Good details, excellent wheels, choice of two calibers of main guns, lots of separately molded detail items.
Cons: No interior details, tracks a bit too long, pioneering tools too thick for the scale
Trumpeter is the first to offer a plastic model of the modern British AS-90 self-propelled howitzer. Crisply molded in olive plastic, the parts have a few sinkholes but no flash. There are several ejector-pin marks, but most end up hidden after assembly. The tracks are vinyl, and Trumpeter provides a square of vinyl mesh for the turret bin and nylon string for the tow cable.
The suspension consists of individual road-wheel arms and rollers. This makes for good detail, but makes it more difficult to align all the wheels. Each road wheel and the rear idler have polly caps inside that allow easy mounting after everything is painted. The separate hub caps improve the detail of each road wheel.
The instructions would have you add the tracks in step 6, but it makes more sense to leave them off until after painting. When you mount them, you have to melt pins from one end of each track after passing them through small holes at the other end. I found the tracks to be a bit long, and they end up looking loose on the model.
The upper hull shows good weld and grille detail, and it has a lot of parts added to it. With care, most everything fits well. My sample had small gaps in the front and at the rear door. You can leave the rear door open, and there are lots of detail parts for its inside face, but there's no hull interior. Aftermarket manufacturers will find this void attractive.
The turret exterior is also a busy place, with spare track links, tool boxes, machine guns, ammo boxes, hatches, a storage bin, smoke dischargers, and pioneer tools molded separately. There are even individual pick-axe heads! The tools are a bit thick for the scale.
Building the open-top storage bin is tricky. You have to cut out the vinyl mesh material and carefully build the box from six frames (plus six pieces cut from the mesh).
Trumpeter provides two versions of the 155mm gun, both the 39 caliber and the massive 52 caliber ("Braveheart") howitzers. I couldn't find reference photos of the big gun, so I went with the shorter one.
If you are careful with glue, you can mount the gun so you can change its elevation, but I glued mine in a stationary position. There's also a positionable travel lock mounted on the forward hull.
I finished my AS-90 in the two-color camouflage typical of Royal Army vehicles. I used Tamiya NATO Green and Polly Scale NATO black. A wash of thinned raw-umber oil paint and careful dry-brushing finished it off.
Overall, I liked Trumpeter's new AS-90, and I hope to build another one should aftermarket interior parts become available.
- Eric S. Tripke