- Published on Sunday, 09 October 2011 13:21 Nick Mayhew
1/35 Polsten 20mm Cannon & 0.30cal Box Shields – Conversion for AFV Club LVT-4
Kit ref #35.1215
The keenly anticipated AFV Club LVT-4 Water Buffalo has now been well received by the modelling community, eager for a newly tooled kit of the old Italeri offering; and although the LVT concept was a US design, it was also used the British and Canadians in WWII. The British replaced the 0.50cal machine gun with a 20mm cannon, and added box shields around the hull side 0.30cal guns, giving the vehicle a very different look indeed, but AFV Club’s kit only allows you to build the American version from the box.
So, if you want to build a LVT-4 as used by the British and Canadians in North West Europe towards the end of WWII, you will need this resin and etch conversion set from Resicast. Despite the fact that it was originally for the older Italeri kit (as you will note from the box art) there is nothing stopping it being used for the far more accurate AFV Club kit, hence the liberty I have taken with the set’s title description.
Background to the Polsten
The Polsten was a Polish development of the 20mm Oerlikon gun, and was designed to be simpler and much cheaper to build than the Oerlikon without compromising its effectiveness. Although it was not employed in combat until late 1944, its genesis can be traced to back to 1939 when the Polish design team escaped to England and resumed work, along with Czech and British designers.
Whereas the Oerlikon cannon comprised c250 parts, the Polsten was made out of c120 parts, with manufacturing costs at c£70 per unit - a fraction of the Oerlikon’s £300+ per gun. The Polsten was most widely used as a substitute for the Oerlikon in anti-aircraft roles, where it was often triple or quad mounted, either directly on the back of a half-track or truck, or towed separately; but it was also used for improved fire-support as here on the LVT series of amphibious vehicles.
The origin of the name is interesting, but not entirely clear: the most commonly cited seems to be the words Poland and the "Sten Company" to give Pol-sten. However, if you want to be really pernickety, the sten gun was not actually made by a Sten & Co., and this part of the name is a further compound of Poland and the Royal Small Arms Factory Enfield, in the same manner as the Bren gun (Brno, in Czechoslovakia & Enfield) thus Sten (Shephard, Turpin & Enfield).
But I digress…so let’s see what he have here!
Typical of Resicast, the kit (because the Polsten really is a mini kit in itself) comes in a sturdy cardboard box. Inside there are four main bags of resin parts, a small fret of photo-etched metal, 2 resin box shields for the 0.30cal guns, and finally a separate bag for the barrel and breach of the Polsten itself. The Polsten gun and its mounting are constructed from 3 of the 4 main bags of parts; the remaining bag concerns the box shield mounts.
The parts are very crisply moulded, and although there is very faint flash on a number of parts, the definition is excellent; flash can be cleaned easily enough I always think, but sharpness of detail is often very difficult to enhance. Importantly, there are sturdy casting blocks protecting the parts – some of the detail bits really are tiny – but they have thoughtfully placed so that removal should not be that difficult provided you are patient. In addition, there are clear sprue and part numbers by each part, just like an injection moulded kit, so no rummaging through tiny bits of resin trying to match them up to the instructions.
Talking of which, I was particularly pleased to see a booklet of extensive and very clear directions on how to put this set together. Too often aftermarket manufacturers provide either incomplete or vague instructions – not so Resicast! These really are a breath of fresh air: the booklet is 16 pages long, and gives you full parts list, and pictures of the actual set being constructed in a step by step fashion.
Although this set will probably of most interest to those with AFV Club’s new LVT-4 kit, I should point out that the instructions also detail the changes you need to make if adding the Polsten to the earlier LVT-2. Who knows, maybe AFV Club will do this as well one day?
The Polsten gun is excellently detailed, as you can hopefully see from the pictures, including hollowed out muzzle, and exquisite spring / recoil mechanism detail. The main gun piece was dye-straight in my box. The only thing I may (emphasis on ‘may’ here) consider when using this set is to get a metal replacement for the last section of the barrel, because there are some things that are just better represented in turned brass than resin, no matter how skilled the master pattern maker or those that cast it. I am not sure if anyone makes one at present, so will have to scout the (after)market – if none turns up, I will quite happily stick with the resin barrel from the kit.
You are provided with 2 different ammunition drums for the gun: the first a vertical feed box magazine, the second the more familiar round drum as seen on most Oerlikons: best check your references when making a particular vehicle here I guess, as they seem to have been largely interchangeable as far as I can make out.
A point worth noting here is that the entire Polsten mount was set up so that it tilted slightly ‘nose down’ – you can see this in the instructions, but its not necessarily obvious. Don’t put it all together, see the tilt, and think ‘I’ve got it wrong’ – it should be this way.
For those who wish to go that extra mile when using this set, you are provided with a couple of ammo boxes for the Polsten. At present I am unsure as to whether these are larger containers held either the drums / vertical box magazines, or whether they held the 20mm shells themselves (either individually or in belts). I think 20mm ammo is available in turned brass which could look quite stunning.
The 0.30cal machine guns are a bit of a mixed bag: the breaches are excellent I think, and even have the pin protruding from the side (I do not know the technical name for this part, my apologies). However, the barrels themselves exhibit the limits of resin for small arms in 1/35 scale: they look ok, but I will definitely be using turned brass barrels and drill them into the resin breach. There are a number of choices out there at present, by the way. You also get the standard rectangular 0.30cal ammo boxes, which look great.
The box shields for the 0.30cals are also very good indeed: mine were all square, with no signs of warping, and nice crisp thin edges; we even have the weld seams / beading visible if you look very closely. The spent cartridge ejection chutes are beautiful.
So What Do We Think?
This is a high quality resin upgrade set, thoughtfully broken down, excellently cast, and with superb instructions. And whilst I think that is set will take a bit of work to put together, it should not hold any fears for a reasonably competent modeller. If you like the AFV Club kit, but want something a bit different, using this set to do a British or Canadian LVT-4 is definitely the way to go.
With thanks to Graham at Resicast for the review sample.
Resicast conversions, accessories and full resin kits can be purchased directly here.