WHY THE "BOFORS GUN AND TRACTOR" IS THE KING OF 1/76 AIRFIX KITS
(by Nigel Robins)
Way back in 1977 Airfix released the "Bofors Gun and Tractor", in those days Airfix released new kits each year that were not only aircraft!
What I recall vividly was how good and complicated a kit it was then and now twenty-seven years later it still is as good. Having remade the kit several times since, it still only needs minor detailing for a first class model to be made and is correct in every respect and highly detailed, unlike some of the Airfix range which have faults, though all are easily correctable, many through Matador conversions.
So why is it my favourite Airfix vehicle kit?
1) It is a model of an early war British vehicle, something that today would, probably, never be made, as every manufacturer seems only interested in German WW2 or modern vehicles. I do know that these subjects sell well, this is why Airfix must be commended releasing it in the first place.
2) It features a crew, which most artillery models don't. These figures, though not the most animated, are perfectly acceptable and do the job. If you feature the model in a diorama you can always add "character" white metal figures to beef it up.
3) The quality of the model straight from the box: it has no glaring errors, features good wheels and the parts are fine, nicely moulded and fit together well. All that is required for a first rate model is minor detailing, drill out the gun barrel, add a wing mirror, refine the gun sights with etched brass ranging circles and add a little stowage and so on.
4) It features a vehicle from the North African Campaign (my favourite) and the markings are for 1940, though I think the roof roundel is more likely 1941/2 and has markings for a vehicle on the home front1940, not Normandy or another vehicle in North Africa which other manufacturers would be likely to provide.
5) It offers conversion possibilities unlike some Matchbox kits. The CDSW can be made into the gun tractor variant or the breakdown version for variety. Further work and a shortened chassis can turn the kit into the CS8 and its variants, though there are good kits of this on the market at present, like the Cromwell kit. The Bofors gun was used by other armies and can be towed behind their gun tractors without modification and not look out of place.
6) I think that this is a brilliant kit and one I enjoy building. My final thought is, buy one there are plenty out there. Original releases with "New" on their boxes keep cropping up at model shows, later versions may not have the battle scene on the cover, airbrushed out in the interests of political correctness for the Australian and European market, I believe. Then you have the current Airfix issue of course, still as good as in 1977.
So what has changed?
Back in 1977 the release of a new Airfix vehicle kit was a big event. The previous new kit had been the Sdkfz 222 and kubelwagen of 1974. I duly went to “ Elliots”, my local newsagent-come-model shop, situated a five- minute walk away, and purchased with my 30p pocket money the “Bofors Gun & Tractor”. You could not do that now!