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In-Box Review
135
Challenger 2
British Challenger 2 Enhanced Armour
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by: Darren Baker [ CMOT ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

Introduction

The Challenger 2 can trace its ancestry back to an order of the Shir 2 (upgraded Chieftain) for the Shah of Iran, this order was cancelled in 1979 when the Shah of Iran was overthrown. At that time the British Army was looking for a replacement for the aging Chieftain tank with the M1 Abrams tank and the Leopard 2 being the main contenders for the crown. The cancellation on the Shir 2 however led to the British Army getting the Challenger 1 at the end of 1982 via a roundabout route, and going into service proper in mid 1983. Between 1983 and 1990 the British Army received 420 Challenger 1’s.

The Challenger 2 started to replace the Challenger 1 in mid 1998, with a total of 386 Challenger 2’s being delivered by mid 2002. Challenger 2 has seen active service with the British Army in Kosovo and Iraq (Challenger 1 saw active duty in the Bosnia and the 1st Gulf War). During those conflicts no Challenger was lost to enemy action, one Challenger 2 was destroyed in a blue on blue incident when another Challenger 2 fired on it.

Trumpeter have now manufactured a model of the Challenger 2 in one of it’s latest armour configurations, with the first rendition of bar armour being provided in injection moulded plastic.

Contents

Before I list the contents it is worth mentioning that Trumpeter has done an excellent job of packaging this kit. The packaging not only protects the model parts against outside forces via a very stiff cardboard box, but also prevents any movement of the product inside the box reducing the risk of damage even further.
Inside the sturdy box are the following:

• 8 light grey plastic sprues.
• Turret top and base.
• The tub.
• The hull.
All of the above are packaged in their own plastic bags with the exception of two sprues which contain the wheels and suspension parts. All plastic parts are moulded using a light grey plastic. The hull and tub are packed in an internal box area to prevent movement.
• A small PE fret.
• Poly caps for the wheels and main gun elevation.
• 24 printed individual MRE boxes.
• A decal sheet covering four vehicles.
• Rubber band type tracks.
• A glossy colour guide which also shows decal locations for one vehicle.
• A 16 page booklet of instructions.
• A length of copper cable.

Review

The instructions are supplied in a 16 page booklet, which cover the building of the Challenger 2 in 30 stages. The instructions cover these stages in a line drawing format with no stage being overly cluttered which could lead to mistakes being made. I have not been able as yet to identify any errors in the instructions, and my research for this review has not highlighted any issues either.

Tub, Suspension, and Wheels:
The tub for this model is nicely detailed on the bottom and sponsons, most of this detail will not be seen when the model is finished depending on how you choose to display it. The wheels and suspension parts all look to be accurate and when added should make this area look suitably busy. My research for this review indicates that the tub, suspension, and wheels are from one of Trumpeters earlier models and this may lead to some fit issues. An inspection of the parts revealed no obvious issues other than some heavy push out marks on some parts which should mostly, if not all, be hidden during construction, and some very light mould seams.

Hull and Photo Etch:
The hull is, I believe, a new moulding as it has an anti slip surface replicated, I do not believe this was replicated on Trumpeters earlier Challenger offerings. The anti slip surface is very light and will take careful painting to prevent this detail being obscured. The detail looks good and is free from all imperfections in my model. The small PE fret consists of only 10 pieces with the most surprising thing for me about it is that the 2 main PE pieces are to replicate the front mud guards. The PE is on the heavy side and so may be a little difficult to work with.

Turret:
The only recycled mouldings in this model appears to be the earlier mentioned items, and so the turret and its base are an improvement of Trumpeters earlier offerings. The turret has a light anti-slip surface replicated and so again carful application of paint is a must, and all other detail looks good with one exception which is the commander’s periscopes. These items would have benefited from being made in a clear plastic and thus being a separate item, however this would have increased the price of the model which in these days is a big consideration. Detail has been included on the base of the turret at the rear, this is a surprise due to the inability to view this area unless the turret is displayed 90 degrees to the hull.

Enhanced Armour:
I suspect this is the area that most people are interested in and I do not believe this model will disappoint. The bar armour is obviously too thick to be accurate, but to my knowledge is the first and only kit to date to include it, and it is my belief that it will be acceptable to most modellers. The only alternative is PE bar armour which, while more accurate scale wise, requires a very high degree of ability and nimble fingers to make it look right. It is my belief that this kit offers the ability to include reasonable looking bar armour on a build to the masses, and for the modeller to be happy with the result.

The side armour is also very well replicated and well detailed. I have seen people complaining about push out marks on this model, well unless I have been very lucky I don’t see this issue with this model because what there is are small and should be hidden on the finished model with the exception of the earleir mouldings being used. I do accept that I may have missed some problems that will be discovered when I start to build the model, and if that occurs I will update this review.

The cheek armour for the turret does have an issue that will need correcting, at the top of each panel there is a moulded triangle which needs to be removed as they represent warning triangle decals. You can see these moulded triangles in the close ups of the cheek armour panels, I suggest removal using a chisel with the cutting bevel of the blade flush against the panel.

Main Gun:
The main gun is nicely detailed and it appears will look the part if used, it does however look a little thin. There have been discussions on the web referencing this perceived problem and possible replacements for the barrel, my opinion of the barrel has been formed only by use of a Mk 1 eyeball and is subject to change when viewed on the model.

Tracks:
The tracks are a concern in this model and not because of concerns over accuracy. The tracks feel very flimsy and I have concerns over their survivability once paint and various weathering compounds are applied, I am also concerned that depending on how well they fit may snap if taut. The accuracy issues over tracks are, I believe, a matter of which vehicle you decide to build and use of reference material for that vehicle. There are people who have said that these tracks are not, and have never been, used on a Challenger 2 with this armour package only to have a picture show up which says otherwise. I can only say choose your vehicle with care and utilise all the reference material you can find.

Painting Guide:
A five angle colour print is provided of one of four possible models that can be built, and depicts the vehicle that has been photographed by Pete Barrett (a link is provided to this picture set at the end of the review). This does lead to a possible issue regarding the use of the other decals provided in the box pertaining to their location and accuracy. The paint chart lists colours from Mr Hobby, Vallejo, Model Master, Tamiya, and Humbrol, a full match for the colours is only listed for Mr Hobby.

Conclusion

Despite the concerns I have raised over this model, both real and imagined, it is the first offering I have seen from Trumpeter that if I didn’t know better could be mistaken for a DML offering. Yes in my opinion the moulding quality is that good, and despite my concerns I have no fear of highly recommending this model to anyone. The model scores very well in all areas with the possible exception of the tracks, which may be me being overly cautious or critical, an answer to which I will not have until I build the model. I have scored this model very highly and if problems are found during the build I will reassess that mark.

The pictures taken by Pete Barrett of one of the versions included in the box, and is the vehicle displayed in the painting guide, can be found Here.


And a blog by Thomas Stefanus can be viewed Here on Armorama.
SUMMARY
Highs: Injection moulded bar armour mark this model as something out of the norm, and I believe shows Trumpeters 'A' game.
Lows: Serious concerns over track survivability/longevity due to feeling and looking very flimsy.
Verdict: Bar armour using injected plastic and what I consider will be one of Trumpeters most sought after modern AFV’s. Very highly recommended.
Percentage Rating
92%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 01522
  Suggested Retail: £25.99
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Jun 20, 2010
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 87.04%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 84.59%

About Darren Baker (CMOT)
FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH WEST, UNITED KINGDOM

I have been building model kits since the early 70’s starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70’s, I have had lots of opportunitie...

Copyright ©2019 text by Darren Baker [ CMOT ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.



Comments

If that is the decision you make I wish you luck with your efforts James. I did pay special attention to the anti slip coating on the Challenger 2 at Bovingtons tank fest this year, and on the example I viewed it is a very fine coating.
JUL 12, 2010 - 06:14 PM
James: sure thing, I'll be doubly interested to watch your build progress with a Tamiya desertised kit if you choose to do so. Darren: If I correctly understand what you are telling us, 1) The Tamiya desertised kit is good but needs the anti slip coating applied, and 2) The Trumpeter desertised kit does not have the anti slip coating either, but you can use the necessary parts from the new Trumpeter Challenger 2 as direct replacements?
JUL 12, 2010 - 06:56 PM
Yes Jeremy that is the case as I understand it, and while I don't know about the accuracy of the Tamiya model we do know about Tamiya's ease of build.
JUL 13, 2010 - 06:11 AM
Thanks Darren, you're a big help as always. I'll keep my two Tamiya kits for when I just want something fun to throw together, and I'll look for the set of Trumpeter kits for a nice kitbashing project in the future
JUL 13, 2010 - 12:48 PM
Price labole of 25.99 paund colud took off
MAY 19, 2012 - 11:19 PM
Looking for a Black Knight/TES conversion model or conversion like this- LINK Oh. Wow. Anyone? Bueller? Tanks All, AGS
OCT 07, 2018 - 08:58 PM
the TES resin kit is not in production anymore (castoff models and cromwell models), you may find oneoff on e bay, very very rare kits.
OCT 08, 2018 - 05:18 AM
I wonder why Trumpeter have never made slat armor for their stryker serie, while they have made it for this Challenger. PE slat armors need a lot of time and dexterity to be built. And a question: why US combat rations for a british vehicle ? No sense.
OCT 08, 2018 - 05:44 AM
Thanks Frank... I've seen the Cast Off conversion and while impressive, it seems to have the older style of MCS with the cut out loupes. The newer (Megatron?) version of that system has what looks to be a quilted rubberized blanket over most of the hull. I'm wondering if anyone has tried to emulate that with Milliput and a diamond stamp or whatever. Alternately, are there Legends/Black Dog/Live options for the Enforcer RWS and the AMAP-ADS active protection system? Maybe the best way to do this is on a system component level...
OCT 23, 2018 - 02:36 AM
   

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