The Chieftain was the principle Main Battle Tank of the British Army of the 1970’s, replacing the venerable Centurion in all but specialized roles. When introduced in the 1960’s the Chieftain’s thick armour and fearsome 120mm rifled main gun made it the premium MBT of NATO until the Leopard 2 and M1 Abrams tanks were introduced in the early-mid eighties. The Chieftain was, however, plagued by an unreliable and fuel hungry British Leylands engine.
In some ways more importantly, the Chieftain was the tank I grew up around as my Dad was a tankee in the RTR. I have early childhood memories of riding around on top of one of these behemoths and they were always going to form a large chunk of my British force for CWC.
GHQ tanks, including the Chieftain, come five to a blister for £6.75 (or £1.35 per tank). This compares to 50p per tank for H&R or £2.50 for five tanks 9so, also 50p/tank) for Skytrex. The GHQ range is never going to appeal to the budget gamer but is usually a good first choice for the miniature painter.
GHQ have adopted a 1/285 scale rather than the more typical scale of 1/300 so the Chieftains are probably going to look a little big compared to Chieftains from other ranges. Having put them next to Skytrex Scorpion recce tanks, the Chieftain’s naturally large size disguises the scale difference to a large extent. The trusty metal ruler measures the hull as being 27mm long which equates to 7.6m, a mere 0.1m off. Working backwards, a 1/300 Chieftain would be 25.6mm long so maybe the scale difference wouldn’t be noticeable!
Mould quality was a little disappointing given the price of the model and my only complaint. The actual detail was very crisp, but the model has two fairly intrusive mould lines. The one of the turret can be cleaned up fairly easily for the most part but can be difficult to clear around the searchlight box. The one on the hull runs along the middle bazooka plates and is a complete bitch to deal with due to the detail on the plate preventing a good run with a file. In the end I had to admit defeat and try and camouflage it with weathering. As you can see, the right hand side still shows up pretty badly.
The line does cross the rear and front but it easier to clean in these places (although I missed the rear one initially because it looks like it should be there till you note it cuts through the barrel rest).
It’s not a deal breaker, but it does detract from the overall piece and a more considerate placement of the mould halves on the hull would have been appreciated.
Well, it certainly looks like a Chieftain! The model has the oddly shaped mantle-less turret and the well sloped glacis plate that one would expect on the tank. The road wheels are well defined and all present and correct. The model is easily identifiable as a Chieftain MBT. One small point is that, although the model is sold as a MkV, the shape of the NBC pack on the turret rear is consistent with the earlier models of the Mk.3 (small box with connecting tube). Bizarrely Tamiya’s 1:35 kit repeats this error which makes me wonder if the GHQ model wasn’t based off the larger kit! It only really matters to anoraks like me at the end of the day though.
GHQ have earned themselves a reputation as making accurate and detailed models and the Chieftain certainly doesn’t disappoint in this regard. The model has enough fine detail that I lost an evening’s painting to my Dad giving me a detailed description of what each bit is. Vision blocks are fully present as well as detail such as commander’s search light, commander and gunner sights, coaxial gun and external tools. Engine grills are fully textured and the wading lip that runs along the tank is present. GHQ have even added some minor detail such as AGU exhausts, tow lines and spare road wheels. As a minor sticking point, it would have been nice to have the commander GMPG and Loaders AA MG modeled but these are minor omissions and the model is still a treat to paint because of the attention to detail.
Did the model live up to expectations? Yes.
After the rather tepid Skytrex Scorpions the GHQ Chieftain was a real joy to paint and easy to go to town on. The mould line is a real annoyance but the only complaint I can level at what is otherwise a superb model.
The cost of the GHQ model is always going to turn some people away, and I’d still probably prefer cheap and cheerful for non-tank stuff like APC or SPG (H&R impressed me with their Abbot), but it’s certainly true that you get what you pay for and likely won’t find a finer MBT model.
Information on how I painted the tanks can be found at my blog: http://safetymarkings.blogspot.com/2011/01…-chieftain.html