The designation 'NA 75' was allocated to 200 plus Churchill Mark IV tanks that had their main armament, the 6-pounder, replaced by 75mm guns taken from knocked out Shermans. The American guns were installed at the REME Workshops, Bône, Algeria. The primary objective of this exercise was to provide tanks with a better high explosive capability that was lacking with the smaller bore weapon. A side benefit of this conversion was that the Churchill proved to be a better gun platform than the Sherman and thus the effective range of the 75 mm was increased.
Build reviews of the Dragon Model
Churchill III and Churchill IV by Peter Ganchev (PGP000) are available here on Armorama and links can be found at the end of this review.
This review will concentrate on the new turret, as well as providing this reviewer’s impressions of this “new” kit, the Churchill Mk.IV NA 75, 1/72 Armor Pro, kit #7507.
After opening the box one is presented with two clear plastic bags containing sprues moulded in the standard Dragon Model
grey styrene. One bag contains two sprues while the second bag contained Churchill NA 75 specific parts as well as the upper and lower hull. Also present were two smaller bags with one containing the Dragon Model
DS tracks and the other a small sheet of Cartograph water-slide decals.
Sprue and parts breakdown is as follows:
- Sprue ‘A’ - 39 (Generic Churchill Mk. IV parts)
- Sprue ‘B’ - 16 (Generic Churchill hull side parts)
- Sprue ‘C’ - 15 (Turret and Churchill NA 75 parts)
- Sprue ‘X’ - 1 (Upper hull)
- Sprue ‘Y’ - 1 (Lower hull)
- Sprue ‘Z’ - 2 (Dragon, DS tracks)
Total parts count is 74 with 4 styrene parts marked as unused.
A four sided instruction card is provided displaying a parts diagram, five instruction steps with exploded view line drawings with arrows for parts placement and one page showing painting and markings. The painting and marking illustrations are for three tanks that are an overall green colour. One of the tanks represented is for the ‘C’ Sqd., North Irish Horse, Italy 1944 and the other two are for “Unidentified Unit”, Italy 1944. The colour references provided are for the GSI Creos Corp Aqueous Hobby Color, the same company’s Mr. Color and Model Master enamels.
First impressions of the overall moulding detail are that compared to some Dragon Model
kits, it is not quite as crisp on the upper hull (hatches, engine covers) and sponson sides. Speaking of hatches, while the hull ones are moulded on, the turret crew hatches are positional in either an open or closed position. While there are not a lot of visible tools on this vehicle, what there are and the tow cables are moulded on. One particularly nice feature or detail are the top and bottom engine grills at the rear of the engine compartment. These clearly show what Dragon Model
can achieve with their state of the art moulding technology.
Some light flash was evident on a few smaller parts and moulding seam lines are quite light and removable with a light sanding or scraping with a sharp hobby knife. Ejector pin marks are located where they will not be visible after construction. There are sink marks located on the underside of the bogie assemblies but should not be particularly visible due to their location.
Perhaps the most disturbing thing that modellers will find is the sprue attachment points (gates). For a number of the larger parts the gates are quite large, thick and numerous. Many are located in odd positions and will need care to remove from the sprue and then time to clean them up. A number of parts, such as on the turret, had gates that overlap two and occasionally three surfaces making delicate cleanup a necessity.
The instructions are divided into five steps and as stated above, the primary focus of this review was to be the turret construction which conveniently, is Step 1. The most logical place to start was to assemble the complete mantlet. This subassembly is composed of five parts (C12-C17) and starts with two internal pieces (C13, C14) being mated with the Sherman mantlet provided in the kit. C14 is a tubular shaped piece that is meant to allow for the main gun and coaxial machine gun to be capable of being elevated and depressed. It in turn is meant to rest between four protruding lugs at the back of the mantlet C16 with a plate C13 holding it in place.
This simple assembly would prove more difficult than one might expect as the two internal pieces are quite small and handling them for cleaning up was tedious. C14 needed to be sanded down around its circumference as it did not want to rest between the lugs in the mantlet. Once that was accomplished C13 needs to be attached on the tops of the four lugs so that C14 does not dislodge. After a couple of attempts to accomplish this it became evident that part C13 was too small to span all four lugs. In the end this reviewer decided to scratch build a larger replacement for the part from sheet styrene.
Next the secondary mantlet C15 is to be attached to C14. In this case the lug meant to mate with a hole in C14 proved to be a bit too short. After using regular glue to position the part, the joint was reinforced with gap filling CA glue. This was not the best elevation arrangement that I’ve seen from Dragon Model
The next focus was to work with the turret top and bottom. Both pieces had sprue gates that overlapped two surfaces that needed to be cleaned up. On this sample the lower, right, front had a bit of warp and a gap was quite visible. No amount of sanding or filing could get it and the top part to sit flush. The gap needed to be filled with putty and then sanded smooth.
Turning attention to the mating of the mantlet to the turret front also proved an issue. It took examining dozens of pictures of these tanks to determine the best location to mount the mantlet as the instructions were of little help. In its most basic form, the bottom of the Sherman mantlet should align with the bottom of the turret (not the turret ring). Adding the barrel to the mantlet proved a non issue other than the fact that the fit was quite loose. Locating the fire extinguishers proved to be an interesting exercise as they are so miniscule. The gunner’s periscope C7 had a pin that fits into a hole in the turret roof but the hole needed to be enlarged. Unquestioningly the hardest parts to deal with were the two lifting rings that mount on the upper mantlet. These are about one-third the size of the fire extinguishers and will seem microscopic to many.
The Peter Ganchev Churchill IV review covers many issues that pertain to the hull and suspension. These included the necessity to thin the driver’s/hull gunner's front armour plate (A11) and that the idler sprocket instructions are wrong as to the assembly of the sprockets. In the case of this kit the instructions call out for the rear sprockets to be made up of parts A27 and A28 but should be A25 and A28. A similar case exists with the front sprockets where parts A24,A27 are the one’s to use. Also to be noted is that the sprockets with the lightening holes are for the front while the solid ones go on the rear. Unlike Peter’s kit, the rear sprocket fits on its pin without any interference from the surrounding plastic.
Another issue with this kit’s instructions was the numbering for the assembly of the bogies. For the right side use parts B1,B3 and for the left B2,B4.
With my sample I found that a couple of the larger parts had some warping to them. This in turn caused fit issues with the worst being the upper hull and fenders piece (B12). This is particularly evident where the front fenders project beyond the hull deck and will make fitting the inner skirt pieces (A13,A12) difficult.
Overall the fit of smaller parts in general is what one might expect. Cleanup of some of the smaller pieces is more time consuming than actual assembly.
Despite a limited number of parts this kit will not be a quick build if you want it to look good. From photos available on the Internet, the overall shape and details look about right. For the purest, the only inaccuracy is the Besa machine gun mounted in the hull position. In truth, all these Churchill NA 75’s had this hull gun replaced with a Model 1919A4 Browning model.
Perhaps the nicest feature of this kit is the way Dragon Model
handled the lower suspension. The long slide-moulded bogies should be a real time saver as opposed to the Airfix incarnation of a Churchill.
While not the most trouble free kit, those with some experience should be able to overcome any issues. This will result in having a decent representation of this unique converted Churchill.
Churchill IV Build Review