"Chieftain Tank" - by Nigel Robins
The British Army had probably the best tank in the world in the late 1960s and 1970s but it was cursed with the L60 engine made by British Leyland. This description is also appropriate to the Airfix Kit, it could have been brilliant BUT!!!!!
The Chieftain Mk II
First released in 1971 it represents an early production variant, the Mark Two, the first production Chieftain in service in the British Army. This is the main problem with the kit. As a child, even I realised this, the Chieftain model I had in my hand clearly was not the vehicle that was available for inspection at public events. The problem was the Mark Two was soon superseded by Marks Three and Five which became the main production variants, other marks followed but these were re-works of the Two, Three and Five mainly modifications with the engine but later modifications affected the targeting system and armour (TOGS and Stillbrew)
A Good Model
As a model of a Mark Two the kit is first rate. It is easy to assemble and is a good model with appropriate decals, the only problems being the joint of the two turret halves, easily visible if care is not taken, and the lack of a turret blast bag. To get a good model straight from the box my only advice is to paint the kit in the two-tone black and green camouflage scheme, add a small piece of plastic strip across the glacis plate to represent the splash board and add some rubber front mudguards made from Milliput. This will give you the Chieftain tank in the early seventies as opposed to the straight Airfix sixties model. Modifications in the marks Three and Five require a lot of work particularly around the engine decks (which are different) twin headlight units and numerous detail differences around stowage bins (refer to photos). Camouflage nets were often stowed around the vehicle, which can be used to conceal modeller's "mistakes" if you get into trouble and even one R.A.C. Regiment, apparently, used turf to cover the glacis plate as part of the camouflage process!
1980s Marks Ten, Eleven and Twelve are the ultimate Chieftains but require a lot of work from the Airfix kit. An interesting and different way to model Chieftain is to leave off the side armour skirts, you will be surprised how the vehicle looks. Another variation is to paint the tank in the "Berlin Garrison Chequerboard" disruptive scheme, if you want to impress your friends!
Chieftain prototype, Mk I and Mk II
This is a good kit which has yet to be bettered in the scale and is worth a place in your collection. It is just unfortunate that as an early variant it is limited in its application.