The Chieftain MBT was designed in the 1950s as a successor to the Centurion MBT. The first prototype was delivered in 1959. More were delivered in 1961 and 1962. It was accepted by the British Army in 1963. Roughly 2000 Chieftains and their variants were produced, according to the kit supplied history.
The Chieftain was considered to be the best tank in the world, until the introduction of the Leopard II in 1980.
The Chieftain had a crew of four, weighed 56 tons, had a 120mm main gun, a speed of 30 mph (48 km/h), and night vision equipment. The Chieftain has evolved into the Challenger, which is the newest British MBT.
The kit is molded in dark green plastic. The tracks are of the individual link type and are molded in a soft gray plastic. The track pads are a black vinyl. There is a tree of clear parts for the periscopes and headlights. The decal sheet is nice...but they don't tell you what the markings are or who they belong to. There is a tree of soft plastic hubs for the boggies.
I found out later - that the holes in the hubs were too small for the bogie axles and the hubs would split. I recommend boring the hubs out a little larger.
ON TO BUILDING THE KIT
STEP #1: This kit was originally a motorized kit, so it has motorization holes that have to be filled in the hull. Where the gearbox and axles fit you need to glue in black plastic plugs, in the hull, so the drive sprockets have something to attach to. You can also tell, at this point, that this company ground the original manufacturer's name off the bottom of the hull. Some people, I've talked to, think that this kit is an old Tamiya kit. Anybody else think the same??
STEP #2: It is pretty self explanatory. You add the adjusting idler wheel mounts, with bolts and nuts, so that you will be able to adjust track tension if built as a motorized kit.
STEP #3 & #4: These steps are a little involved, but not too complicated. You need to assemble the suspension. There are a lot of sink holes and push pin marks in parts #25 and #26.
STEP #5: In this step you assemble the sprockets and boggies. The wheel molds are off, so you have some filing and sanding to look forward to.
STEP #6: To start with, part #148 is really part #146. Here, you have to take a little time to put the suspension on. When I was putting the pins (#40) through the springs, sometimes they would go off flying in the air.
STEP #7: In this step you assemble the suspension guards (part #39). These require a bit of sanding. These parts hold the side skirts on the tank.
STEP #8: Here, you put the idler wheels, drive sprockets, and boggies on. I decided to not do this step until after I had painted the hull.
STEP #9: You put the individual track links together in this step. This is followed by heat melting the vinyl pads onto each link.
STEP #10: Now, it is time to move on to putting the turret halves together. The fit was pretty good. I didn't have to use any filler. All pictures, that I have seen of real Chieftains, show a coaxial MG, by the main gun. The turret in this kit does not indicate one. What is funny is that the box art shows one on it's turret.
STEP #11: In this step you assemble the search light. The doors actually open on this, but there isn't a lens inside. Here, again, the box art shows a round door. In the kit it is a hexagonal shape, split in the middle.
STEP #12: This step consists of putting the smoke screen dischargers together. I drilled mine out. Pictures of the actual Chieftain show a special canvas cover for them. I made these using tissue and white glue.
STEP #13: With this step you add the hatches and many other accessories to the outside of the turret. The hatches will work. Some 1/25th scale figures (if you can find any) would look great in these. When you add the lifting loops on you need to fill the over-sized rectangles they fit into. This actually works out well, because you would need to add weld beads here anyways. The search light and storage bin, once mounted, need their bottoms blocked off. This is easily done with sheet styrene.
STEP #14: In this step you put the back of the turret together. It consists of putting an open basket together, then mounting it...along with another external storage box...to the turret back plate. Here, again, in most pictures I have seen, the Chieftain had external baskets mounted all around the turret, but the kit doesn't.
STEP #15: With this step you construct the commander's main hatch and cupola. In this step you install the clear vision port pieces. I did not do this until the end...after painting. I suppose I could have installed them, and used liquid latex to mask them, and then painted maybe.
STEP #16: In this step you put the flexible machine gun together, that mounts on top of the turret. This MG is very crude, so I doubt it is accurate.
STEP #17: This step is the same as step #13, except you are working on the right side of the turret this time. There are a couple of storage bins, and a spool for the outside telephone (that was used to communicate with the tank crew and ground troops).
STEP #18: Here you work on the main hull, attaching different storage bins, accessories, and tools. The gun barrel cleaning rods were undesirable, so I made new ones. The shovel was also misshapen. I bought some 1/25th Prieser brand tools to replace tools. The tow cables were really bad, so I made new ones using braided copper wire.
STEP #19: This step is one that I left till the end, because you put the vision glass in for the driver.
STEP #20: In this step you build the gun travel lock. It needs a bit of cleaning up to look good.
STEP #21: This step is the same as step #18, except it's to the right side. Part #136 is a kind of cooling vent. I did not like the molded-in screen, so I Dremeled it out to open it, made a framework, and put in some screen. I then did some more Dremel work to open up all the engine grate areas. This took some time, and a bit of cleaning up. I think this made a big improvement to these areas of the kit.
STEP #22: This step might as well have been deleted from the instructions. The kit does not supply decals to put on the side skirts for this step. I suppose you could paint these marking on, but the kit does not indicate what color they were or what their purpose was.
STEP #24: Here you assemble the main gun. Some filing, and sanding, will help this.
STEP #25: In this last step you join the upper hull to the lower. Before you do this, I would recommend painting them each. When you go to join the two it will take some filing and dry fitting to bring it all together good. I also added some Evergreen brand sheet plastic to seal off the sponsons underneath. At this point, I finished steps #15 and #19. I used watch crystal glue to attach the clear plastic parts.
This kit is just BEGGING for some extra detailing and scratch-building. I used some white glue and water, then soaked it into tissue paper. I then wrapped it around the main gun barrel, to replicate the insulating blankets of the real tanks. While the tissue was drying, I wrapped thin lead foil strips around the tissue coated barrel to simulate the tie straps. Next, I made glue-soaked tissue for canvas covers on the smoke candle dischargers and the base of the main gun. I made the antennas from various diameters of Evergreen rod stock.
Although the kit is impressive, once built up, I feel this kit has many let-downs.
First: It doesn't represent the Chieftain shown on the box art at all. The nose of the hull is flat, on the kit, and not pointed like the one on the box art. There is no coaxial MG. The search light doors are totally different in the kit. External storage racks are not included, to go around the whole turret.
My thoughts are that they needed to do some more research on this kit, before doing the box art. It is misleading. I realize that this is an old kit, from the past, so there isn't much you can do about some of the mold problems.
If I was to rate this kit on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the worst and 10 the best, I would give it a 6 1/2.
I would like to thank Ray Mehlberger and Mike Benolkin for giving me the opportunity to build this kit for this review.