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Dragon Saladin Mk.2 armored car


The Alvis Saladin entered British service in 1959. It featured six-wheel all-wheel drive, with the front four wheels used for steering. Armed with a 76mm main gun, the vehicle was equipped with both antipersonnel and antitank ammunition. The Saladins served in many conflicts around the world and were sold to several nations.

Until now, if you wanted a 1/35 scale plastic kit of the Saladin, the only game in town was the old, inaccurate, difficult-to-find Tamiya kit. Now Dragon has released this brand-new kit of the Saladin Mk.2 under its Black Label line.

While the kit is beautifully molded in gray plastic and features excellent detail, there are a number of surprising omissions. Most notable is the lack of detail on the interior of the hatches. The kit also lacks a .50-caliber gun mount on the turret, despite having a .50-caliber gun tripod mounted on the front fender (albeit missing one of its legs). The canvas main-gun shroud seen on most Saladins is missing, and the exhaust is simplified.

The kit does have a nicely detailed suspension. The six wheels are molded in Dragon Styrene. They have an accurate tread pattern, and there are no mold seams to remove. Only one piece of photoetched-metal is included — a screen for the rear intake. Decals are provided for six subjects, but, strangely, the vehicle on the box art is not included in the marking options.

I started by gluing the hull together. Follow the directions carefully as you add the suspension parts. Some look identical — but aren't — so work carefully. It's important to leave the front steering arms movable so you can adjust them later when you add the connecting arms to the wheels. The fenders fit perfectly. I left the wheels off until I finished painting the model.

The turret assembled quickly and easily. The only error I found in the instructions was the location of the periscope in Step 15 — it should go behind the commander's hatch. Though it's not noted in the instructions, you could leave this periscope off and close its cover.

While the main gun is designed to be movable, mine was too loose to stay in position. So, I glued it in place. The reel on the back of the turret is for a spool of communication wire, so I wrapped thin lead wire around it. The antennas provided in the kit are thick and short; I drilled out the mounts and added stretched-sprue replacements.

The painting diagrams for the black-and-green vehicles show only three views: one side and the back and front of the vehicles. Complete views really would have helped. When I decided to paint my vehicle in the scheme of the Queen's Royal Irish Hussars (deployed in Brunei in 1966), I found a photo of the exact vehicle which showed it in a solid-green paint scheme instead of the black-and-green scheme on the instructions.

I used Tamiya dark green as my base color and highlighted it with applications of RAF green and NATO green. I applied the decals over a coat of Vallejo clear. A little Solvaset helped the decals conform to the rivets on the rear plate. After adding a light dusting of Tamiya earth and buff to show light road grime, I gave the vehicle a wash of black artist's oil paint, then dry-brushed it with Vallejo dark green lightened with medium flesh.

I spent about 18 hours building my Saladin: pretty quick thanks to the excellent fit and the monochromatic paint scheme. The finished model measured favorably to the dimensions in Ian Hogg and John Weeks' The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Military Vehicles (Book Sales, ISBN 978-0-906286-75-3). Despite some disappointments along the way, the finished model really looks like a Saladin armored car. I think the corrections the model requires are well within the skills of most modelers. After all, isn't adding detail to make your model a bit different from everyone else's what modeling is all about?

Note: A version of this review appeared in the September 2015 FineScale Modeler.

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