Copper State Models 1/35 Lanchester Armoured Car
Copper State Models is new to 1/35 military, but not to WW1 aviation modelers as for years they have produced high quality kits in 1/48 and aftermarket in 1/72, 1/48, 1/32, and 1/28, a number of which inhabit my stash. CSM and others are adding exciting new kits to the WW1 military field.
There's little more I can or need to add to Chris Lloyd-Staples excellent and comprehensive First Look but I have included, at the end, a few references that might be useful to those not as familiar with early armored cars.
Opening the Box
It's a box in a box -- pull off the color-print top and you have a sturdy top-opening cardboard box inside.
Parts were bagged and protected. A quick inspection, later confirmed in the build, showed very little flash or seams and few embarrassing ejector marks. With one exception, attachment points were well done and I had little difficulty snipping parts and cleaning them up. Chris noted the "overall feel of the kit is slightly 'chunky' with thick parts" and I agree but would also state the detail and molding is very sharp. Some parts -- fenders, radiator covers -- are close to scale thin and the plastic wire wheels are hard to beat.
The only thing I noted was the absence of clear headlight lenses and the absence of any paint instructions other than the markings color plates, and even then the body colors are given as "names" and not any particular color line/number.
Up Front Decisions
The only build option is to use (Belgian) or not use (RNAS) the stowage box (B.4) -- and that doesn't occur until step 32. Period photos support the distinction.
I decided to do a few minor corrections and enhancements based on Chris's First Look and my own research; almost all from the scraps box on my workbench. These are:
-- added headlight glass.
-- corrected the shape of the parts box (B.34) and added a strap.
-- added rivet detail on the bonnet and visor hinges.
-- fabricated POW can carriers for the left and right sides.
-- relocated the 'mount' on the top of the turret.
-- blanked the side windows to close the shutters.
-- fabricated a bucket to fit in the carrier.
Other than that, it's an OOB build of option 3, a British Lanchester Armored Car of the RNAS operating in Persia, 1916.
The instruction book, by its sequence and format, drew me right in and I got well into the first 6 steps before I remembered to take a breath -- and some pictures. After that I took the time to appreciate and enjoy the kit.
Some sprue attachment points are on pins or things you don't want to snip off, so be sure to check the illustration and the parts carefully. The pin on the tie rods in Step 1 is a good example.
There are some square pins and holes which greatly aid in part alignment. Regardless of square or round, test fit all pins/holes to be sure they mate properly -- I had to do some trimming of pins to get a proper fit. NO, I was not putting square pegs in round holes.
Off we go:
Construction starts in step 1 with mounting the front springs and tie rods to the frame sides. The springs mount at two points, while the tie rods have square pins/holes to help with spacing. I used the front axle (B.46) to help with that but it proved unnecessary.
In step 2, be careful of the underside of the engine (A.2) -- the four tabs that look like flow gates are actually the mounting pins. I left the exhaust (A.18) off for drilling out and separate painting later.
In step 3, the steering arm (B.9) is one of those parts where the square pin/hole needed a tiny bit of trim to ensure proper fit. I inserted B.37 in the frame but left it loose until assembling the coil springs in step 9.
In step 4, it isn't all that clear where and how the radiator fits, but it all works with a bit of jiggling.
Step 5 is critical to ensuring all four wheels touch the ground. B.28 and B.29 are not a positive fit on the axle B.46 and I used very little glue until I had them true. This continues to step 6 when the axle is joined to the spring and tie rods. I glued the axle to the spring and upper tie rod, checking for alignment, and waited until set before gluing the bottom tie rod.
Be careful of the steering added in step 7 - in later assembly steps, it is a bit vulnerable - step 8 following is one place.
In step 8, the flat sections on the bar (B.41) must face down to mount headlights in steps 18-19. After a couple tries, I found it easier to fit the two body halves (A.7, A.12) and the bar (B.41) together and then fit them onto the frame as a unit. Then starting in the center of each side, I lightly tacked them into place, alternating sides, working to the front and then the rear, checking alignment all along -- to include test fitting the doors (A.16/17), bonnet (A.14), and top plate (A.9) to be placed in steps 9-10.
The two side windows have shutters inside so I blanked them off since there is nothing to see.
When it comes time to add the rear cargo floor, look ahead to steps 11-12 for positioning.
Then I checked it again, locked it all down, and let it sit.
I did steps 9-10 as one, or rather two different steps. Note the body edges are beveled and give a nice sharp fit so minimal cleanup was needed. I fit the two rear doors (A.16/17) with the top plate (A.9) and when happy fixed the doors in place. The gap atop the doors is taken up by the thickness of the top plate and the beveled fit to the sides, so don't worry about it. I added the top plate, the bonnet (A.14), the visor (B.39), closed since there is nothing to see inside and then the other detail parts. The parts box (B.34) isn't correct -- see Chris's First Look -- so I later made my own and added a strap.
At this point, I jumped ahead to step 29 so I'd have the wheels available. They required only a little clean-up of a mold seam around the tires, but none elsewhere. Note each wheel/rim half (C.1/15) has a notch on the inside of the rim where the very tiny valve stem (C.11) fits and I think this is supposed act as a key for spoke alignment but the fit is too loose. I glued the stem into each wheel half (C.1) then glued in the rim half (C.15) and wiggled them for spoke alignment.
Steps 11-15 build the rear axle assembly. In step 13, note the flange on the rear axle leans back and the round holes fit over the rod standing up on B.12/13. Also note the driveshaft (B.40) has 4 u-joints on the axle end. Now is a good time to check that all 4 wheels touch the ground/table and make any adjustments before moving on. It is possible to dry fit the rear axle onto B.12/13 and to make minor adjustments before gluing and moving on to steps 14-15.
Step 16 is the turret, but it can be done any time. I glued the front wall (B.11) to the turret ring (A.10), where is not critical, and left the machine gun (B.15) to be inserted from underneath later. Then I played with the fit of the other 3 walls, mostly to be sure the nifty interlocking tabs were clear, and tacked them in place. They fit very nicely and tightly. The turret roof (A.15) fits right on but is not flush with the side walls. I checked some photos to verify that's how the roof appears to fit on top of the walls. Once I knew the roof fit I locked down the side walls to the ring. Then I ran a sanding stick around the roof edge several times, just to reduce the overhang, and glued it on.
Sidebar: The smooth, versus the more common ribbed, barrel on the Vickers is visible in most every Lanchester picture. I have found nothing to suggest why the Lanchester might have that particular barrel but, looking through Reference 5, I began to wonder if early models of the Vickers were pulled from units or stocks and supplied to the production line rather than the newer model Vickers which were in high demand. It might also have something to do with the cooling system as no water lines are visible outside the turret.
The mount on top, whether it is for a periscope or flag, is shown in all side pictures to be too far forward, but no pictures clearly indicate whether it should be centered or not. I chose to gently slice the whole thing off with a single-edge razor and relocate it as shown.
Step 18 is the headlights, much of which I left for later. The mount (C.9) is shown below, on the sprue - I used a very fine resin saw, very carefully, and got the arms cut away from the sprue gate. This was the only "problem part" in the whole kit. Anyway, there is no headlight glass, so I set the headlight parts (C.4/5) aside and glued C.9 onto the underside of the bar B.41 from step 8 -- it is needed in step 23.
Steps 20-28 are the front and rear fenders and the cargo compartment -- it is a great place to practice dry-fitting skills. I decided to deviate from the instructions to get the rear fenders and cargo compartment done completely then address the front fenders afterwards. Here is what I did:
-- test fit B.16/17 onto the frame as shown in step 22, it helps to understand things.
-- do step 20 and let it set.
-- do step 22. Align the fenders from the rear to be straight up and with the cross-member to be straight across and hold them until the glue is set because there is some pressure on them.
-- do step 24/25.
-- do step 26/27. Test and fit the braces (A.24/25) into the notches in the frame. Work on one box at a time somewhat quickly so the parts can be pushed about and squared away on both sides equally before the glue sets. Do note the notch in the end of B.22/23 (shown in instructions) fits onto a little tab on the inside of the arms on B.30 (not shown in instructions).
It's a good time to recheck that all 4 wheels still sit on the ground. With that taken care of, go back to steps 21 and 23 to do the front fenders. Again, check B.18/19 with the frames in step 23 to understand how that works, then glue them onto the fenders (B.26/27). Note the instructions are showing the fenders from the back - that is important to position B.14 correctly, pointing backwards. Also note B.14, the "long" end is fastened to the fender and the "short curved" end points backward.
In step 23 put the fenders on the frame as shown, with the short curved arm of B.14 hooked onto B.41/C.9 from the underneath. I used the un-ditching boards to help with alignment and to hold things in place while the glue set. Do note that the un-ditching boards fit snugly in the channels, even more so after paint and varnish are applied.
This block of instructions isn't hard, just busy, and the parts do fit well.
At this point the model is near done -- add the wheels and some bits -- paint as desired, etc.
As mentioned before, in step 32 the stowage boxes (B.4) are for the Belgian version only.
Here we are, about ready for the paint shop. The lack of rivets on the bonnet and visor bothered me, even though photos give only the vaguest suggestion they existed, so I made some, almost flush, tie goes to the modeler. I made a POW can carrier for the left side and later realized I could use a single can holder on the right. I found that they fit better when the big, soon to be invisible, rivets on the frame were sanded off. And lastly, my pride and joy, I made a bucket from scrap brass and wire (maybe I should add Mike Roof's PE series from Boresight as a reference).
Painting: As I noted at the start, there are no paint instructions other than what can be gleaned from the color camo and markings illustration. For option 3, the body color is given as "RAF Light Earth" and I suspect CSM was trying to give an modern modelers equivalent for (a perhaps lighter) "Tank Brown" but I have Vallejo, Humbrol, and White Ensign and their Light Earths all differ enough from each other. Using Reference 3, I mixed my own using White Ensign (now Sovereign Hobbies) Colourcoat enamels -- about half and half ARB05 Dark Earth and ACRN 26 Light Earth, with a dash of ARB21 SCC7 and ARB17 Light Mud added to taste. The ARB colors are from their British Army range and the ACRN from their RAF range.
An absolutely fun build !!. For a first offering, Copper State has done wonderfully and I hope they continue to populate this underrepresented field.
Pros: Easy to build thanks not just to the low-part count but also the excellent instructions and the well-designed and molded parts.
Cons: A bit "chunky" as Chris says. There are several very thin/fine parts -- fenders, radiator cover, wheel spokes -- that show other parts such as doors, body, etc, can be molded to portray scale thicknesses.
Highly Recommended, without reservation or caveat.
I would like to sincerely thank Copper State Models for providing the review sample to AMPS.
Reviewed by John Ratzenberger, AMPS Eastern Carolina Plastic Modelers and AMPS Central Virginia.
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1. Fletcher, David; War Cars - British Armoured Cars in the First World War; Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1987; ISBN: 0-11-290439-4.
Starting with fledgling development in the late 19th century, chapter 1 is a great introduction. Chapter 2 is about Royal Navy Air Service involvement and thus focuses on the Lanchester -- fig 40, pg-21, is a photo of the chassis without body. Chapter 3 starts the transition to the British Army and other topics but still includes some Lanchesters in Russia. IMO, a must-have book for armoured car fans.
2. Crow, Duncan, ed.; AFV 1914 '19 AFVs of World War One; Profile Publications, London, 1970; (Volume One of the Armoured Fighting Vehicles of the World series).
Duncan Crow has a short but useful introduction to set the stage then Maj-Gen N.W. Duncan provides, in the first chapter, a great history of early British armoured cars to include many pictures and several color plates.
3. Taylor, Dick; Warpaint, Colours and Markings of British Army Vehicles 1903-2003, Volume 1; Mushroom Model Publications,Poland, 2008; ISBN: 978-83-89450-63-0.
Pages 19-27 discuss pre-WW1 and early war paint. As you'll find out rarely was paint pre-mixed so variation was "normal". It is worth reading to page 40 for the tank color discussion - then form your own opinion. Note the naval greys are discussed as is the Belgian 3-color scheme. This book, along with the Mike Starmer color mixes floating about the internet, is invaluable to the British WW1 modeler.
4. Bradford, George; AFV Plans, 1914-1938, Armoured Fighting Vehicles; Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA, 2010; ISBN: 978-0-8117-0568-4. (Part of the Images of War, Rare Photographs from Wartime Archives, series).
There is a 4-view (left, top, front, rear) in 1/35 scale of the Lanchester. It's pretty basic but does show the 3 POW cans on the left side. The mount atop the turret matches the kit, but not photographs. The kit and the drawings are approximately the same except the kit bonnet is considerably narrower and without any other reference, I'm hard pressed to say which is correct.
5. Pegler, Martin; The Vickers-Maxim Machine Gun; Osprey Publishing, Oxford, UK, 2013; ISBN: 978-1-78096-382-2. (Part of their Weapons series).
History and development of the Vickers, but no real answer as to why Lanchesters appear to all have the smooth-barrel Vickers, other than as I have suggested in the review body above. On page 35 is a picture of an armored car turret and Vickers damaged by shrapnel -- and I believe it is a Lanchester.