Carro Armato P40
Italeri No. 6599
Italeri has re-released their 1:35th scale kit of the P40 Carro Armato heavy tank. The kit was originally introduced in 2009, then being part of a wave of WW2 Italian armor subjects released by the company.
The Esercito Italiano had been entertaining the idea of a pesante or "heavy" tank since 1938. The initial requirements put forth were for a vehicle of 20 tons, with a max speed of 32 kph, and a 47/32 turret-mounted main gun. Delays caused by economic, political, and strategic events led to Mussolini himself ordering the development of a heavy tank in August 1940. Ansaldo developed a prototype armed with a 75/18 gun and a co-axial 20mm in the turret, a 12-cylinder diesel oil engine, and 40mm frontal armor. Again though, events would outpace development and what was provisionally called the "P75" or P26", would undergo a major re-engineering effort. This in no small part the result of an examination of a captured T-34, supplied to the Italians by their German allies. Eventually the P40 (named for the year of its commission) was ordered into production in April 1942, with a planned delivery of 500 units. The final design had sloped armor plates, 50mm thick at the front and 40mm on the sides. The turret mounted a 75/34 gun and a co-axial Breda 38 8mm machine gun behind a 60mm thick mantlet. The tank was powered by the unreliable Fiat V-12 SPA 342 diesel oil engine, producing 330 horsepower with a 24-litre displacement. The tank would still retain some obsolete features from earlier designs in its lineage, including riveted armor plate and leaf spring suspension. Actual production didn't start until summer 1943, with sources citing between 1 to 5 vehicles being completed before the Italian armistice. Production resumed briefly, under German occupation, and another 101 units were produced. Many of these were without engines and were deployed as pillboxes along the Gothic line. The few to see actual service were deployed in rear areas and assigned to anti-partisan units.
Italeri has provided four (4) sprues, in their usual tan plastic. Two (2) of these sprues are identical and comprise the running gear and tracks. The molding appears to be reasonably crisp with minimal flash, sink marks, or ejector pin marks. The inclusion of a metal gun barrel and photoetch sheet are welcome. The included decals are printed by Cartograph and look great. The instructions are a booklet type. I am disheartened that Italeri no longer provides the Photographic Reference Manual of the original release, as good references for this tank are hard to come by and primarily published in the Italian language.
The lower hull is provided as a "flat pack" to be assembled, rather than a "bath tub" or single molded piece. The molding is good, with some flash and mold parting lines visible. The details are consistent with photographs checked online. The tool handles and clasps are somewhat thick and Italeri has provisioned new clasps with the photoetch set. There are also noticeable ejector pin marks on the upper fighting compartment, around the turret ring that will need attention during construction.
There are two (2) identical B sprues included. The leaf spring and bogie suspension is well detailed, but does not articulate. The other parts of the running gear appear well detailed, again well molded without much flash. The bogie wheels do have a noticeable mold parting line down their centers. There are a fair number of ejector pin holes in the individual links that will require attention. The links themselves do not have the hollow ends expected on Italian tracks of the day. The parts for the air filtration are simple but appear accurate by photographic references available. The sprues also include a section of replacement rivets that can be cut off and used to replace any lost during sanding.
This sprue contains the fenders, turret pieces, and some pieces of the fighting compartment that couldn't fit on sprue A. These are all nicely molded and detailed. The mount for the machine gun is simple, as on the 1:1 vehicle. The Breda is simple and will need cleaning up as well and its end drilled out. The usual flash is found on these parts, including between the louvre slats.
Photoetch, Barrel, and Decals
Italeri have made this a "complete" kit in a single boxing by including a simple, but effective, photoetch sheet and a turned aluminum gun barrel. The etch gives the shields for the exhausts, which can be bent around a thicker section of sprue A that Italeri has designed to that purpose. There are also tool clamps and the straps for German fuel cans on the PE sheet. The metal barrel is a good representation and checks out with photographs. The decal sheet is a Cartograph printing and will no doubt apply excellently.
There are four (4) marking options shown in the instructions. These are for tanks that served with German units, and a tank from the Ansaldo factory in 1943.
The "Bonus" markings provided on the decal sheet are not shown in the instructions. Instead one is directed to visit the website http://www.modellismosalento.it/oldsite/modelli/mezzi_militari/P40mod/P40mod.html. These markings are for a P40 recovered and after the war put on display at the Armored Troops School in Caserta.
The instructions are provided as a booklet of 16 pages. Italeri provides clear photographs of the sprues and parts layout. The build is shown in a sequence of 21 steps and use photographs of the kit parts, rather than diagrams, to show parts placement.
Italeri's re-issue is welcome. The kit comes with everything needed to build an accurate rendition of this rare Italian AFV. The age of the mold engineering technology is evident in the lack of slide molding for the Breda machine gun or track link ends. The price seems high, but is somewhat made up for by the included accessories. It would be more than made up for if the Photographic Reference Manual was still included.
Recommended for Intermediate builders and Italian AFV aficionados.
Thanks goes out to Model Rectifier Corporation for this review kit.
Reviewed by Shon Stephens
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