While there has been a profusion of trucks and other soft skin vehicles recently, disappointingly few have been Allied subjects. The world is still waiting for a proper "deuce-and-a-half" to replace the ancient Tamiya kit, and surprisingly, many of the recent issues have been by Eastern European companies like IMG and IBC. But now that the Bedford has made its way onto the scene, perhaps the dam is about to burst?
Those interested in British artillery especially have been frustrated by the lack of a prime mover for larger guns. Accurate Armor's hugely expensive resin kits were previously the only game in town, and recently they've gone MIA. Now AFV Club
, coming on the heels of its Dorchester release (which shares the same chassis as the Matador), has released an early version of the Matador 4 x 4 lorry. Both the Dorchester and the Matador are also part of a vehicle family that includes the AEC Armored Car and the Mk. II & Mk. III armored cars, so perhaps AFC Club
will release kits of these items in the future? Stay tuned.
The Matador debuted in 1940 from a need to tow field guns, and was developed by the Associated Equipment Company
, a company known for the London double-decked buses. Eventually some 8-9,000 were produced, and saw service both with the British and Canadian Armies. The Matador towed a variety of medium field pieces, including the BL 5.5 inch Medium Gun, the 6 inch 26cwt Howitzer, the QF 3.75 inch AA Gun, and later, the 25 Pdr. The vehicle also has potential for hauling equipment and even personnel. Inside the cargo bay are two benches for artillery crew, but a "retreat from Tobruk" diorama would be nicely served by a Matador full of infantry.
Inside the usual colorful AFV Club
box you will find:
14 sprues of mustard-colored styrene
2 sprues of clear parts
1 fret of PE
a length of towing "rope"
16-page instruction booklet
1 large color print of the vehicle in two-tone camo
5 vinyl tires (dammit!)
Strictly speaking, this is a "late early" Matador. The original design incorporated slightly more elaborately-fluted front fenders, which were quickly ditched by 1941 for simpler straight ones. This technically prevents modelers from using the vehicle in settings prior to about 1941 (no BEF in France), but that may not matter to some of you. I plan on marrying the kit with Resicast's 6 inch 26cwt Howitzer
in a North Africa setting, so it's perfect for my needs.
The molding is crisp and the parts look well-made overall, though the sides of the canvas cargo deck are poorly-detailed and cry out for an expensive AM resin replacement. The attachment points often have a raised "nib" on the part, so you will need to dry fit things before gluing. There also is a significant amount of "knockout holes" with raised leftovers that will need trimming & sanding.
This isn't a kit for the novice, as it has a lot of parts, and a number of complex sub-assemblies, including the chassis. Instead of a one-piece frame, the chassis requires cross-beams be installed across two rails, and "trueing up" the result will take some care. I found that it's best to set the assemblies aside to dry overnight, but make sure they are "true" or you could be disappointed the next day.
And familiarize yourself with the instructions before applying glue. Those instructions are fairly straightforward and clear as far as they go, deriving from the earlier Dorchester kit (AF35227). But there are numerous blunders, so review the construction steps carefully to make sure you have the right part. Armorama member Gary Boxall
has been kind enough to prepare a list of errata:
One A28 part should be A53
H6 should be II6
A34 should be A54
Front leaf spring tow unit is not numbered - should be D24
PE bracket should be PE18
Rear leaf spring tow unit is not numbered - should be D25
A28 should be A53
II10 and II11 are the wrong way round
Fire extinguisher which magically appears is part B27
Windows H6 and H7 should be swapped
Front cab bolts which are not mentioned anywhere are F32
The sub-assemblies cover the engine, chassis (with lots of details, including the winch and fuel tanks), transmission and wheel configurations, cargo bed, cab and tarp top. The detailing is good, though the engine leaves lots omitted for scratchbuilders and super-detailers. Sadly the tires are vinyl, but at least three AM resin makers have indicated they will provide a set to replace them, including a company I've not heard of before called Celticwerks
. The tires have a seam down the middle that is difficult or impossible to remove. Vinyl is also tricky to paint or otherwise weather, and this vehicle cries out to be in North Africa with the Desert Rats.
decals & markings
The kit offers a disappointing selection of markings and paint schemes, including two that are basically the same:
79th (The Scottish Horse) Medium Regiment, Scotland, May 1941 in dark earth and khaki drab
Unknown Unit 1940 (inappropriate for the configuration of this kit)
79th (The Scottish Horse) Medium Regiment, Scotland, May 1941 (with different camo pattern)
Luftwaffe captured vehicle in Panzer Gray
The decals include some stenciling, which is appreciated.
I don't pretend to be an expert on UK vehicles, but I have been eager to get this kit so as to tow my 6" howitzer
. So I hope you will put up with any oversights. It's a kit that should be exciting to all red legs and fans of Allied softskins. It will be interesting to see if AM companies or AFV Club
itself choose to release some of the other versions of the vehicle, including its role with the RAF as a bomb transporter or fuel truck. But for now, those of us who love artillery are thrilled to have a styrene kit of this caliber that brings the Matador to life.