by: Andras [ ]
ACE Models is one of the few companies who produce a Centurion in plastic (the other I found was an old Airfix kit and DML version); ACE certainly has the largest catalogue of versions and modifications. This model depicts an Israeli version of this iconic Cold War tank. The Sho’t Meteor (it is written as “sho’t”, not “shot”) was essentially the Centurion tank armed with the 105mm L7 gun with the Rolls-Royce Meteor engine (hence the name). Most of them were later upgraded to Sho’t Kal. It was in service for only a short period of time, since it was demonstrated in combat (during the Six Day War and Yom Kippur war) that it was very vulnerable to Russian-made rockets and missiles.
The model comes in an envelope-type box, with quite a few sprues. The sprues have thick gates, which make it difficult to remove a few of the more delicate parts, and there is seam line on every part. There is moderate flash on a lot of parts, which will need to be removed, but it is not exactly a big issue. Most of the detail is really fine, but some do look a bit chunky (the commander’s machine guns are not very well detailed, for example). The gun barrels are somewhat of a weak spot of this kit: you have three different versions, but no actual information in the instructions which one to use (you are presented with a choice between two, and also get a third on a separate sprue which is not mentioned in the instructions). The problem is that there are sink marks on two of the barrels marked by the instructions, so I ended up using the unmentioned third.
The tracks are also somewhat of a weak spot: they come as flexible “vinyl” type tracks. You are supposed to assemble one side from two parts, and join them by melting them together… Not an ideal solution at all. I really do wish for plastic link-and-length tracks -or what Revell does: straight sections you bend around the idlers and drive wheels after softening them with hot water. I used superglue to glue the tracks together and to the rollers and road wheels in sections; did not attempt to melt them together. (It sounds like something that can lead to disaster very quickly.)
There is a very small PE fret which has a few essentials; they really do dress the model up.
In the painting guide there are versions marked with a side panel present on the turret. The instructions provide you with a template you can use to cut it out of a piece of plastic, but I think a PE part would have been preferable. (It is a personal opinion; it was not a big deal making a side-panel from a thin piece of plastic, either.)
The instructions are, in general, clear, but some parts are miss numbered on the turret assembly (G18, F04, etc). It does not really pose an issue since it is easy to find the parts required, but it is worth knowing about.
The sprues, however, are not very well labelled. I constantly needed to refer to the sprue layout in the instructions, which considerably slowed down the building process.
The towing cables are made out of the same material as the tracks, and they are full of flash and their profile is not circular, either. I would advise to change them to wire (again, a simple thing to do). I used the kit option for the review, but later on I may change them.
There are two gun mantlets; both had the hole for the gun barrel plugged in at the end by flash, which I did not realize at the time. Not that it was plugged in, but that it was flash and not a deliberate feature. I thought it was intentional, and did not understand why the diameter of the barrel is smaller than the hole it is supposed to go into. Well, these holes should be open, and the barrel pushed in as deep as it goes, so that it fills in the hole completely… When you build the model, keep this in mind.
For painting I ended up using a mix of Citadel paints, which (in my non-expert judgement) were close enough for the IDF sand color I needed. (It is difficult -and risky- making decisions about colors using reference photos on a computer monitor, but I had no other option.
Some rust was added (deserts are not always hot and dry…) using paints, oils and Lifecolor’s rust washes, added a lot of dust using pigments and AK aquarell pencils, and it was pretty much it for the build.
To sum up, it is a nice little model. The building process did not go without a hitch, but there were no major issues, either; the model can be quickly assembled to a nice finish by anyone who built one or two models before.