Entry No. 4: Tamiya Archer Review
The 17-pounder anti tank gun was certainly one of the finest artillery pieces of the Second World War, boasting high muzzle velocity that could be used to destroy Nazi tanks with unerring lethality. Developed by Great Britain during the mid-war period to cope with the arrival of such tanks as the Panther, the 17-pdr was a fantastic but large bit of kit. In many ways, one of the greatest disadvantages of the 17-pdr was that, unlike the 6-pdr and 2-pdr guns, it required a significant amount of effort to move around and reposition. Furthermore, it would not be easy to mount it on a tank, where such a weapon would doubtless be effective. As such, in 1943 development began on a self-propelled mount to move this gun. The Valentine infantry tank was selected as the mount for this gun, and a new vehicle, the Archer was developed. To fit the cannon onto the Valentine chassis, the fighting compartment was oriented in such a way that the gun points backwards! This allowed the Archer to assume good hull-down positions, as well as to quickly displace if necessary.
It's no secret that Tamiya is a serious contender for the designation as the industry gold standard. Tamiya kits are easy to construct, well-detailed, and most importantly, fun to build. Especially amongst their new releases, attention has clearly been paid towards the quality of kit engineering. I have to admit now that I am a huge fan of their products, and indeed it was this interest that got me to pick up an Archer kit from Wheels and Wings Hobbies in Toronto over the summer.
In essence, this is a similar kit to Tamiya's recent Valentine in 1:35 scale, with some sprues being used from that kit. The tracks are link-length, a feature that has become common on Tamiya kits as of late. While there is no engine detail, a very well-detailed fighting compartment can be made, including a very good 17-pdr cannon (the barrel is slide-moulded, thank goodness), a wealth of ammunition, and the drivers position. However, note that this area of the kit is not as detailed as Bronco's offering. An example is the radio, so where Bronco offers an entire subassembly dedicated just to making headphones for an incredibly intricate radio set, Tamiya offers only the shape of the radio covered in it's canvas container. Markings are supplied for Polish, British, and Canadian anti-tank units. Three figures are included, and they are excellent. The positioning options for the figures would certainly lend themselves well to making a dynamic diorama.
I began this build by building up the hull, which came in a handful of pieces. It's a good way to easily make a detailed hull without any fear of warp issues, and is becoming more common in 1:35 scale. Then, breaking from the manual, I began work on the driver's position, which has some detailed areas that had to be painted first. Work on the upper hull then commenced, with the main assemblies being the superstructure around the fighting compartment and the engine deck. Overall, there isn't really a great deal to say about these stages, because, frankly, Tamiya has done such a good job of keeping this build straightforward. Where things began to become interesting was working on the interior. While not necessarily detailed to a MiniArt or Bronco standard, this kit did the job. The 17-pdr was a fairly large assembly, with quite a few parts going into it. I would suggest painting and detailing the interior prior to installing the gun, as it covers up much of the floor. I only installed a few shells to give the impression the Archer had been in fierce combat. Tracks were then assembled, and overall they went together well. No complaints, but if you're thinking of buying aftermarket for this kit, see if you can pick up some metal tracks. The Archer has enough track sag that metal tracks would be a worthy investment. Once the tracks were installed, I added some MiniArt British Bags to add some interest to the build.
Painting and weathering
The kit was painted overall in Mission Models Olive Drab, then chipped with Cold Rolled Steel. I added a figure to the build from MiniArt's Winter British Tank Crew, which was painted with Mission Dunkelgelb 1944-45, and accentuated with Tamiya Black Panel-Liner (if you've read my prior reviews, you may notice that this is my go-to detailing solution.) Mission Models Insignia White was sprayed onto the breech detail of the 17-pdr, and decals for the Canadian 3rd Division were then applied. The decals were good, and settled in well after a coat of flat clear.
I wanted to represent a Canadian Archer operating in the Netherlands during winter 1945, so after applying AK-Interactive Stirred Earth to the running gear and chassis I began layering some snow effects. The intention was to present an Archer that was caught in a blizzard overnight unexpectedly, so AK Snow Effects paste was carefully layered on vertical surfaces. This was then covered with AK Snow Sprinkles to add a bit of depth to the effect. After that, a bit more chipping was applied, and the build was done!
Highly recommended, especially for fans of Canadian armour.
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