British Self-Propelled Anti-Tank Gun Archer

Published: November 27th, 2017     
Product Image
Box top
Reviewed by: 
Tim Wilding, IPMS# 47420
Scale: 1/35
Company: Tamiya
Price: $66.00
Product / Stock #: 35356

History

As WWII progressed, British troops found that their 2-pounder and 6-pounder guns were being rendered obsolete by German armor, and planners decided to develop a vehicle using the powerful 17-pounder (76.2mm) gun. The vehicle chosen to mount the gun on was the Valentine with the turret removed and replaced with a fighting compartment. This new vehicle would be known as the Archer. Interestingly, as there was little time to re-organize the cramped layout, the 17-pounder had to be mounted pointing rearwards to fit it in. As a result, the Archer moved and fired in opposite directions. Designed and manufactured by Vickers' Armstrong, 655 were produced by May 1945. It served with British and Commonwealth units from October 1944 until the end of WWII, and with the British using it until the early 1950s.

Kit

This is a mostly new-tooled kit from Tamiya that comprises 391 parts. It does share sprue A with their Valentine kit, #35352, released earlier this year. Sprue A is the link and length tracks and suspension. The road wheels are a late war design, so they are newly molded for this kit. The other six sprues are also new tooling for the Archer. A five-piece clear part sprue is included, but only the spotlight lens is used. The small decal sheet has options for two vehicles plus marking bands for the four 17 pounder rounds. Interestingly the decals provide marking of only a Canadian or Polish unit vehicle, which is most unusual. The foot-long piece of string will be used for the two towing cables attached to the front. Poly caps are added for the drive sprockets and gun cradle. The rest of the roadwheels and idlers will be glued in placed, which is unusual for Tamiya kits since most use poly caps. The 20-page instruction sheet has 41 assembly steps with two black and white color/decal guides on the last two pages. There are only a few tasks per step and the drawings are very clear as to placement. There are three crew member figures included.

The tracks are link and length with the one-piece upper part having a slight sag over the return rollers. There is a straight bottom piece, individual pieces for around the drive sprocket and rear idler wheel, with some five track link pieces for the connection to the bottom track run. There are some tiny injector pin marks on the outer edge, but are not too noticeable. The fighting compartment has loads of details. The driver's compartment is located right behind the gun breach, so it very visible. There are crew seats, bags, bren guns, ammunition and much more to fit into the open-topped compartment. The two crew figures will take up about the only open areas, and the commander is molded in a nice action pose with him standing outside but leaning in. The gun is well detailed and is molded in one-piece with one part of the muzzle break already attached. The gun has a full range of movement up and down along with left and right.

Construction

Assembly starts with building the lower hull in the first eleven steps. Since this is not a bath tub, you will have to assembly the hull from multiple pieces, but they fit extremely well. The interior details are mostly visible since this is an open topped vehicle. This means that about half the construction focuses on the fighting compartment and gun. The suspension builds up quickly, but make sure to watch the spring orientations closely. They are easy to install backwards. I left the road wheels and tracks off until the end. Looking back, I think I would have been better to build the tracks up, except for the nine links that go around the drive sprocket. I painted the links while still attached to the sprues, then cut them off and built the tracks at the end. Between the painted parts and trying to install on a finished hull, I had a difficult time getting it right. I am thinking that attaching the tracks and road wheels, then painting them at the end would have been faster than the way I did it.

After the suspension, construction moves back to the gun carriage. This glues onto the floor, then clicks into place on the upper gun, so it will slide left and right like the real gun does. The ammunition holders and 26 pieces of ammo take up most of one side of the fighting compartment. I left the ammo off, painted it brass and installed after completing the interior. There are lots of detailed parts to add to the inside of the superstructure. There are a few shallow injector pin marks to sand off on the inside, but most will be hidden. I painted and weathered the inside of the three pieces of the upper fighting compartment before attaching them to the hull. I also painted the driver's area and rest of the interior before adding the sides in step 26. I think it would have been hard to decently paint the interior after construction is done. When the driver's small roof is attached, it will stand a little proud of the surrounding area. I thought I messed this up, but after some internet research, that is how the real vehicle looked.

Once the sides go on, the assembly moves back to the exterior details. There are not a lot of details on the exterior, just some storage boxes, exhaust system, lights, a jack, and a metal bar on top of one of the boxes. There are no pioneer tools like a shovel or axe. Be careful when cutting the exhaust holders of the sprues since it is easy confuse this mount and the sprue gates. The last few steps deal with building the 17-pound gun. This thing is very well detailed and fits great.  I built this earlier and attached it to the carriage before painting the interior. I did miss a seam where the barrel meets the breach, but that is barely visible behind the gun shield. The muzzle break is in two pieces with one piece already molded to the barrel. There was just a slight seam, but a little sanding took care of that. I was most impressed with the look of the gun and its barrel. The gun shield a little tricky to install. It needs to be lined up with two mounting lines inside of it, but you cannot see them, plus the gun moves freely. I clamped the gun barrel in place to keep the gun immobile and that helped to line up the shield with the gun carriage. 

The two tow cables fit perfectly in the two side holders and wound around the five guides. Just make sure you make them to 130mm in length. The three figures are the last step. They are very nicely detailed and have great facial expressions. I think some under cutting on their uniforms around the collars and pockets will help sharpen up their details. There are four full 17-pounder rounds and two decals for each included. There are some empty brass casing, but the will need to be drilled out.

I painted the interior a faded olive drab and weathered with oils, which darkened it up more than I liked. I painted the exterior with Tamiya's XF-61 dark green with some buff added to lighten it up. The decals are very thin and laid down great with just a couple applications of setting solution. I used a lighter green filter since it seems like British armor had a greener shade then American armor. I weathered with oils and washed with some rust and black pigments for the exhaust system.

I enjoyed building this new kit from Tamiya. I kind of had trouble writing this review, because there was no bad stuff to talk about. Everything fit well, the details look good and assembly was straight forward. This is another great and enjoyable kit from Tamiya.

I would like to thank Tamiya USA and IPMS for the chance to build and review this wonderful kit of a very unusual tank destroyer.

  • Ammo close-up
    Ammo close-up
  • Back of Archer
    Back of Archer
  • Drivers area
    Drivers area
  • Exhaust close-up
    Exhaust close-up
  • Front of Archer
    Front of Archer
  • Gun breach
    Gun breach
  • Left side overview
    Left side overview
  • Left side
    Left side
  • Only tool on vehicle
    Only tool on vehicle
  • Rear
    Rear
  • Right side and exhaust system
    Right side and exhaust system
  • Spotlight
    Spotlight
  • Top and fighting compartment
    Top and fighting compartment
  • Top view
    Top view