by Terry Ashley
AFV Club's FSV is built basically out of the box for this article. This is to demonstrate what is in the kit and explain any problems with construction. I have already started a second kit, this time including all the alterations and adding the detail for an up-to-date Aussie MRV. Most of these alterations relate to small details - there aren't any major errors. AFV Club has done well in providing the larger parts required, although there are a couple of bits missing as noted below.
Let's clear up one small point to start with - the name. The vehicle is actually called M113A1 MRV (Medium Reconnaissance Vehicle). The earlier vehicle with the Saladin turret was the FSV (Fire Support Vehicle).
With that bit of trivia out of the way, let's have a quick look at what's in the box.
The kit is a co-operative effort between AFV Club and Academy and, like the Dragon Shermans, comes with it's own spares box.
The kit comprises 8 sprues and a lower hull "bathtub". 6 sprues of individual track links and a turned aluminum barrel. Three of the sprues come straight from the Academy M113 kits - the road wheels plus two others from which only a few small parts are used here. The main hull tub is also from Academy. Four sprues are from AFV Club's Scorpion kit, two for the turret and the two road wheel sprues. These are only included for the periscopes and other small turret bits on the same sprue. One new sprue from AFV Club contains all the parts to make the Aussie MRV.
The decal sheet has markings for two vehicles, one in overall desert sand and the other in the great looking three colour cam scheme currently used on Australian Army vehicles.
One noticeable thing is the difference in quality of the Academy and AFV Club parts in the kit. While the AFV Club parts are up to today's standards the Academy bits look dated. There is excessive flash on some parts, especially the smaller bits (eg. Headlights) and the fit leaves a bit to be desired in places. Had AFV Club done the whole kit themselves the overall quality would have been better, but due to economics chose the co-operative route.
Steps 1 to
The instructions are a little vague for the camouflaged paint scheme. You get a four-view plan showing the scheme, but not an overhead view. The colours are given as Light Khaki, Dark Green and Flat Black. No paint numbers are given.
The actual colours used on the MRV are Light Tan (FS 30219), Flat Black (FS 37038) and Dark Green. This Green doesn't have an FS equivalent, being an exclusive Australian colour. It's official number is 7650/ADE(M)-146-1/1, quite a mouthful. I painted the model using Humbrol enamels and probably the best match is the old Humbrol Authentic colour MC21 'French Artillery Green'. I'm not sure if there's an equivalent in the current Humbrol range? Most other paint brands have FS equivalents in their paints for the Tan and Black, but you may have to match the green by eye. Another solution would be to use Medium Green (FS 34102) with a few drops of white added. It should also be noted that the scheme has an 'official' layout, but as it's applied by hand with a spray gun some variations are inevitable. All the road wheels and undersides of the lower hull are painted the Dark Green.
I firstly sprayed an overall coat of green followed by the Tan and Black sections. One thing with an intricate paint scheme is the inevitably overspray. For this reason don't worry if the paint scheme isn't spot on first time. As a rule, I go back over some spots two or three times covering bits of overspray and correcting other small 'disasters'. Once the cam scheme is finished and allowed to dry overnight, I applied a coat of gloss for the decals.
Unfortunately the decals are not up to today's standards. They are overly thick and don't react well with decal setting solutions. They don't stick well to the model either and easily came away from the surface after drying. Fortunately, the majority of decals go on flat surfaces, except for the rear of the turret storage box. The kit details here are very prominent and no matter how much decal setting solution or other coaxing I used the decal refused to adhere over the raised detail. I ended up discarding this decal and even after it had set for a day, peeled off without any objection. If these decals aren't applied to a gloss surface you can forget about eliminating air bubble "silvering". The decal sheet also gives you the small reflective strips attached to each corner of the hull sides. You get red for the rear and black for the front. This is fine for the desert cam but the three colour scheme has white strips on the front. This is shown on the box top illustration, but not on the decal sheet. I replaced these strips with Letraset rub on lines of red and white. After the decals had dried, I applied a final coat the Matt varnish to flatten the paint and hold the decals in place.
Weathering: I kept weathering to a minimum here to show off the actual model and can scheme. The vehicles are regularly washed and kept fairly clean by their units. If you are modelling an MRV on exercise out in the bush then they would be covered with heavy layers of dust, even more so when trundling around the North of Australia. Here they get really covered in the red dust this region is "famous" for. This dust gets in everywhere and almost eliminates the cam scheme after a while. I firstly applied a light wash of thinned black oil paint to highlight the details and then added the weathering from light drybrushing and a fine overspray of dust.
The model scrubs up into a nice replica of the MRV. Aside from the small problems outlined above with the older Academy bits and some omissions of new bits, the finished model "looks" like an MRV. As with any model there is room for improvement and additional detailing and this model is no exception. The box top illustration shows the main areas needing attention. The rear turret storage box Jerry can holders, the canvas cover to the main gun and a small stowage box added to the left turret side and the correct colour reflective strips.
I would recommend the kit for any fan of the M113 family, this will be a good addition to the collection. It is an excellent basis for a highly detailed model.
Model, Article Text and Photographs Copyright © 1999 by Terry Ashley