At the start of september I got this in my mail:
The spanking new Academy Stridsfordon 9040B in 1/35
A very brief background of the real vehicle
The Stridsfordon 9040B is the third “upgrade” of the IFV member of the Combat Vehicle 90 (CV 90) family of vehicles used by the swedish armed forces. Third you say! B is the second letter in the alphabet, you got to be out of your mind. No, I am not. The first version of the IFV version was the plain Strf 9040. When it was upgraded with, among other things, a stabilised gun, it received the designation A (as in Adam). The B (as in Bertil) is yet again upgraded with among other things a back up sight in the shape of a video camera mounted on the barrel, and programming equipment on the gun for the programmable 3P-ammunition. The latest version in the swedish army is the C (as in Caesar) version, with improved armour and enhanced surviveability against mines and IED. The first three versions are quite similar. If you know where to look you can spot the difference. The C-version is easy to recognize due to the added armour that gives it a beefier look. With one exception all swedish CV 90 IFV´s used in “anger” (so far in Liberia and Afghanistan) have been Caesar vehicles. The one exception is a bunch of Strf 9040B1’s used in Liberia when the previously used Caesars needed overhaul at home.
Back to the kit..
The box contains 9 well thought out sprues, two hull halves (top and bottom per usual), two rubber tracks, one small fret of photo etch, one turned alumnium barrel and a small decal sheet.
What’s in the box?
Academy has put some thought in their sprue layout, which made this speed-build (I wanted the model ready for Modell Göteborg, 9/11) a bit easier. The sprues are all layed out according to when the part is needed in the construction sequence. So all the running gear parts are on one (or actually, two duplicate) sprues, all the hull parts are on one sprue, and the turret parts on another. The sprues are:
2x sprues with running gear details, wheels, suspension and so on.
2x sprues with single plastic links, giving the modeller the choice between plastic and rubber links.
1x sprue with separate pads for the track links.
1x sprue with details for the hull.
1x sprue with turret upper and lower halves.
1x sprue with turret and gun details, including a slide molded one piece barrel with hollowed out recoil enhancer.
1x clear sprue with periscopes, gun sight and lights.
The build, the good, the bad and the ugly
The kit is mainly very good. I built it in two evenings. I confess that I skipped a bit on the sanding and puttying, and most of the time that was not needed. The kit is very detailed, and without bringing out the reference material or the caliper I believe that most details that should be present, are there. I said MOST. More on that later.
The instructions however with the running gear. The suspension arms are very fine and they feel a bit fragile. Remember, this is a 20 tonne ICV, not a 60+ tonne MBT. The arms have a sink mark on them, but it will not be visible on the completed vehicle so it didn´t bother me. The drive sprocket and idler are very nice. I think Academy did a great job of capturing the intricacy of the drive sprocket, with all the holes and bits.
I said earlier that I didn´t bring the calipers, well, while that was true, I actually did some meassuring. I thought the tracks looked a bit skinny, so I meassured them with the first ruler I could find and I found them being 0.5mm too narrow. No big deal, but it leaves a small question mark wether the AFV Club bradley/CV90 tracks will fit if someone would prefer them over the two kinds included in the kit.
The road wheels all consists of three parts. A detailed back side, a front side and a separate rim. The rim is separate, not to make the painting of the rubber easier, but because the shape of the wheel is such that it is impossible to make it any other way with conventional injection moulding.
If you plan on using the rubber tracks you might want to not glue the idler axle in to place until you mount the tracks. The track is a bit slack if you glue the axles on as the kit wants you to (and as I did). If you remove a small tab on the axle you can rotate it like on the real thing, to bring the idler further back thus tightening the track. I dont know if this will suffice, but it´s a tip none the less that could work on other kits as well. I used the rubber tracks, used fishing line to tie the tracks together so that they were tight. I trimmed away the excess, which amounted to the two links that holds the mounting nubs and holes.
If you like to use the plastic links you will have to decide wether the two ejection pin marks on the inside of every link will bother you or not. Since the links have separate pads, I believe it would have been a good idea to place the pin marks on the outer side of the tracks, where they could have been covered by the pads.
Other fine points of the kit is that most hatches that is opened during normal use of the vehicle is given as a separate part. Given that there is no interior what so ever, most people will glue them shut, but it could be of help for a scratch builder or an after market company.
Some hatches even have detail on the interior. These hatches are: the rear door (which can be optionally mounted open), the engine hatch and the gunners hatch. Ironically the commanders hatch, which can be made open, or glued in to “umbrella position” lacks interior details. It´s ironic since this hatch is the one most likely to be left open. The drivers hatch isn´t detailed either, but it is rarely open while the vehicle is in use. It can be made positionable, but the nature of the hinge makes it impossible to fully open without slight surgery.
The combat hatches over the infantry compartment lacks interior detail, but the folding construction of these hatches makes internal details invisible when they are open. Not that there are much detail there anyway. Academy gives you working hinges for the hull/hatch attachment, but tells you to glue the second part of the hatch to the first one, thus making a single, large hatch. This is not really right, since it folds while opening.
Some of the hatches that has interior detailing are also marred with ejection pin marks. This includes the rear door and the engine hatch. Not a big problem since most will glue these parts shut due to the lack of interior and engine. However, there is a down side to this. The shape of the engine hatch interior details have led to sink marks on the outside of the hatch. This sink mark is placed on a flat surface, but this surface also contains fine anti slip detailling, so puttying and sanding without destroying this detail is nigh impossible.
There is a ladder-looking feature on the back of the vehicle. It is a ski rack actually, but it is used for stowage of other stuff as well. The lower part has a fine mesh, and academy gives you the option of using a plastic part with moulded on mesh, or a part that need so be combined with an included photo etched mesh. The kit also includes PE mesh for the radiator intakes, but not for the air intake on the engine hatch. Although I found out that this part will look nice enough without PE, it just needs a little wash to come out. Some people who saw my kit att Modell Göteborg thought that part actually was PE.
One part missing from the hull is the tow wire. The wire is usually mounted in front of the hatches over the infantry compartment. I guess Academy omitted it because the play between the turret overhang and the hull is too small to enable an in scale looking wire to fit, without increasing the gap between hull and turret to something that looks out of scale.
At this step I glued the side skirts to the upper hull, but I didn´t mate the upper hull to the lower. I wanted to paint the running gear and paint and mount the tracks first. The hul parts, when fitted with the side skirts, actually snaps in place with no need for glue, so I haven’t to this day, glued the halves together. If you want to make a serious build you´d want to put some putty to the rear, under the box like structures on the sides, and you want to carefully file down the edge that is created at the front to a smooth join.
The turret is a straightforward build. The main parts are the upper and lower turret halves, the rear bins (the two hatches that can’t be built open, actually), the crew hatches, sight, armoured sight housing, gun trunnion and barrel. I left the upper and lower halves of the turret unglued until after painting, so that I could add the periscopes without the need to mask them off (the splinter camouflage gives you plenty of reasons to fiddle with masking tape anyway). The fit between the halves is very good, but the border between the parts is all on the under side of the turret anyway, and not visible on the finished kit. More or less the only border to fiddle with is the one between the trunnion halves. It could use a little help to become invisible.
The gun barrel comes in two varieties, one in metal, that needs to be mated to a plastic bracket and a plastic part representing the rubber cover over the parts of the gun that moves inside the trunnion when the gun recoils. The other barrel is a complete plastic part with hollowed out recoil enhancer. The plastic barrel is good, but I used the metal one, since it is a fraction more crisp in the details.
The gun can be elevated and snaps in place in three angled. After some toying around the lugs that snaps the barrel in place broke off, so I decided to glue the barrel in a slightly elevated pose. Note that the mantlet cover that sits on top of the turret is made for a barrel that is aimed straight ahead.
The protective plates over the periscopes of the commander and gunner are nicely done. At first I thought they might be a bit too thick, but when the model was painted they looked just right.
The gun sight consists of several parts. The sight itself is a transparent part, so the super detailer can build the sight optics and place it behind the glass. The armoured housing has a separate visor. The same super detailer that builds the sight optics can drill a small hole through the visor, representing the small hole from which the gunner can peep through the sights when the cover is closed. The very same detailer will have to improve on the inside of the gunners hatch, and do some interior work on the commanders hatch as well.
The smoke launchers all have ejection pin marks on them, but some careful positioning of the tubes allows them to be turned inwards/downwards, so that they are not visible unless you turn the turret upside down and look for them. So if you´re the super detailer you propably want to putty them, or replace them with some after market item or something. I didn´t bother this time, and I will propably not bother later.
The spare tracks suffer the same pin marks as the single links, but has the pads moulded in place. Since the links are mounted with the pads inwards, placing the pin marks on the pads would have been a better idea. Actually, it would have been the better idea anyway since it would have been easier to file off.
Also belonging to the turret are the two figures included. They are ok I guess, but not brilliant. They are also slightly inaccurate in that they are wearing the standard m/90 field uniform jacket, where they should instead wear the shorter m/90P armour crew jacket. They wear the 90P trousers however, with an extra pocket at the ankle. Unfortunately these guys haven´t learned to wear them properly yet, since they are wearing the trousers with the pants tucked inside the boots. Swedish soldiers wear the pants outside of the boots, with small hooks that latches on to the lacing to keep the pants in place at all times.
Missing from the turret is the machine gun barrel. I belive academy has worked from images of parked vehicles, and these have the machine gun removed. But when the gun is mounted the barrel protrudes a bit outside the vehicle. In 1/35th scale I think almost a centimetre. The machine gun used on the 9040B is the Kulspruta m/39, which is a variant of the Browning .30. The bad thing is that the berforated jacket around the barrel is different. The standard browning has circular holes, the Ksp m/39 has elongated holes. Now, thsi might not be as much of a problem, since the m/39 is prone to jamming, and takes up a lot of valuable space at the commanders position, so I believe the gun is not always mounted even when the vehicle is in use. When the gun is not mounted the hole is covered by a small yellow plastic cover.
So, to recap the good, bad and ugly:
Nicely, mostly well thought out kit with some nice features and nice detailling. Overall good fit. The only Strf 90 available as a kit in any scale, so far.
Missing machine gun barrel, no tow wire. Slightly inaccurate figures.
Some badly placed ejection pin marks, ugly sink mark on engine hatch.
So to the verdict:
The only game in town, but a good game it is. A super detailer and serious modeller can make a masterpiece out of this one (but on the other hand, they can make a masterpiece out of an old airfix as well), and the novice will get a very nice model just by following the instructions and using whats in the box.
Finally a gallery of the model in pre-paint stages and after it has been finished: