Introduced as a replacement to the earlier Challenger 1, a vehicle which served with distinction during the swift battle to free Kuwait in 1991 and helped keep the peace in the fractured remnants of Yugoslavia, the Challenger 2 would have big boots to fill. The relatively quick conflict in 1991 was to be replaced by the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2002. This later conflict saw British forces operating in Southern Iraq based in large part around the port city of Basra. Whilst experience in Northern Ireland and the Balkans could only help in the post invasion phase, the threat level in Iraq in general and southern Iraq in particular involved a terrifying array of IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and wide range of RPG and hollow charge weapons much of which was left behind from Saddam Hussein's vast arsenals were further augmented by deliveries by Iranian revolutionary guards to Muqtada al-Sadr's forces and affiliates. British forces in Iraq and later in Afghanistan now found themselves serving in a high-intensity, counter-insurgency campaign operating over extremely difficult terrain amidst a hostile civilian population and against a fairly fanatical foe. While still using such standard vehicles as the Land Rover it quickly became apparent that they were unsuitable for the unconventional nature of the conflict and while a whole range of new light patrol vehicles were eventually ordered.
The Hawker Hurricane is one of the most iconic fighters of the Second World War. Although it was one of the rare breed of aircraft that remained in front line service from the first day of the war until the last, it will forever remain associated with the Battle of Britain. It is therefore appropriate that Italeri has released a Hawker Hurricane Mk.l, the variant that was used in the Battle of Britain and the Blitz. This is not the first Hurricane Mk.l in 1:48 scale. The Airfix kit of the 1970s was very nice for its time, but typically of this era it featured a very basic cockpit and raised panel detail. Hasegawa's more recent kit is an improvement in both departments, having fine, crisply recessed panel lines and a decent cockpit, but it is hard to find today on hobby shop shelves. Italeri's 1:48 scale Hurricane Mk.l is a brand-new kit. It comprises 93 parts in light grey plastic (three of these are marked "not for use"), 12 parts in clear and eight photo-etched parts.
In the late 1990s Dragon first introduced the Jagdpanzer IV L70 to their range of 1:35 kits. With a little TLC and some plastic card, a very respectable model would result. Here we are a decade later with an all-new version of the same vehicle. Is this kit much of an improvement? I think the answer is a resounding "yes". There are no parts taken from Dragon's earlier kit of the Jagdpanzer IV although, as you would expect, the suspension and common engine deck parts are from their current generation Panzer IV kits. A comprehensive series of new sprues provide the hull, superstructure, schürzen, fenders, steel-wheels and clear periscope parts. What versions can be built from this kit? No zimmerit is included, so the first examples of the L70 (V) manufactured in late August to early September 1944 could be built, but would require zimmerit applied by the builder. Any of the un-zimmerited vehicles produced up to Christmas 1944 can be modelled. An alternate reinforced towing assembly and vertical exhaust pipes are included for vehicles produced during December 1944.
Revell USA established a tradition in the 1960s and 1970s with their iconic 1:32 scale fighter kits. Surely any modeller who was a child of this era prized their 1:32 scale Revell Spitfires, P-40s and Bf 109s above the regular 1:72 scale run-of-the-mill. I know that they were spectacular to my young eye at the time. Revell of Germany has resurrected this large-scale tradition over the last decade with some remarkable new large-scale releases. The difference is that these new models benefit from 21st century research, much higher levels of detail, and fewer gimmicks. One thing that has not changed, however, is Revell's affordable price tag. In my opinion, the most impressive of these recent offerings has been the 1:32 scale Junkers Ju 88 A-1. Now Revell has released its Kampfflieger stablemate, the Heinkel He 111 P-l. Revell's new 1:32 scale Heinkel He 111 comprises 390 parts in pale grey plastic and a further 43 parts in clear. The plastic is typical of Revell - well moulded and slightly soft. Surface detail includes recessed panel lines and selected rows of rivets, especially on the metal flying surfaces. The fabric-covered ailerons are subtly depicted.