Ground vehicles
by Karen Rychlewski

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Austin 2nd Series

Kit: Major Models (1:35)


In 1914, Imperial Russia joined its allies and initiated an Eastern Front against the Central Powers. At the time, Russian armed forces were virtually unmechanized and the military establishment moved quickly to remedy the situation. At the end of September, an order was placed with Austin Motor Company Ltd., a small British company, for 48 fully armored cars built to Russian specifications. The delivered cars, with angular bodies of flat armor plate, two cylindrical gun ‘turrets’, and room for a crew of four, were ultimately designated “Austin 1st Series”. Two Russian Maxim machine guns were installed in the turrets and by the end of 1914, Russia had eight armored machine gun platoons. The cars were successful in numerous actions and an order for additional cars was placed in March, 1915.

The “Austin 2nd Series” cars (the subject of this model) were built on a truck chassis and had a more powerful engine and thicker armor; additionally, the driver’s compartment roof was lowered to give the machine guns a wider field of fire and shields were placed alongside the guns for protection. The Russians wanted a second driver’s controls in the rear but the Austin Company did not include this and some cars were modified by the Izhorski Plant after delivery during the summer of 1915.

This model represents the Austin 2nd Series car named “Caucasian” of the 46th Machine Gun Platoon in October, 1916, as built by the British. It started with a kit by Major Models, an obscure and long-gone Russian company, circa 1990’s. An awful kit but still, to my knowledge, the only kit of this particular version of the Austin. The body, turrets, and engine hood were cast by pushing some unknown substance into a mold with someone’s fingers and many of the other parts were equally crude. Flash, mold marks, and leakage were everywhere and cleanup was a nightmare. The white metal parts were equally clunky and most were replaced with scratched styrene. The wheels were pitted so badly as to be unusable; I cleaned up one and had four new ones cast by a friend. The stone street base is from my stash and the advertising kiosk is a Custom Dioramics item; I may add a figure. I’m pretty happy with how it eventually turned out.

CGV Armored Car

Kit: JMGT (1:35)

CGV Armored Car, Russia, 1910

The French automobile firm Charron, Girardot et Voigt produced the first armored car which incorporated all the elements common to this vehicle type for the next fifty years. A prototype was purchased by the Russian Imperial Government and used to help quell the St. Petersburg riots in 1905, awarding the car the dubious distinction of being the first armored military vehicle to fire on its own civilians. The Russians ordered 10 more of the improved and modified version between 1906 and 1908. Two of the cars mysteriously disappeared in Germany during rail transit to Russia; ultimately, nine cars made their way to Russia by the outbreak of WWI. It is thought that one or more CGVs were used during the Russo-Japanese War in the far east. They don.t seem to have seen action during the Great War as there are no photographs of them during the hostilities.

The car was built on a touring-car chassis and was fully armored; the revolving turret had one Hotchkiss machine gun protected by a U-shaped shield. The design incorporated four steel panels which slid up to cover the windows and a hinged panel at the front which could be fully raised. The engine developed all of 35 hp. The low-slung radiator at the front was a feature of CGV automobiles which was retained in the armored version. A single gas headlight was mounted on the radiator and another spotlight was mounted inside the body. Two steel channels carried over the rear wheels were for use in crossing ditches.

The French JMGT kit includes resin and vacuformed parts. With no documentation and minimal instructions, the kit is a difficult one to build and major modifications were made to the kit parts. The body and hood were altered to the correct shape and proportions for the Russian version. This removed all surface detail and the body was almost totally reskinned with sheet styrene and all of the detailing was redone, including over 800 assorted PE nuts, bolts, and rivets. The front fenders and ditch channels are the kit vacuform pieces with all new supports and braces. The spare tire was modified from the kit part and covered with paper to simulate the cloth wrapping. These two photos show the model with most of these modifications made.

Wooden spokes from the spares box were added to the front wheels, and the wheels turned slightly to the left. Everything on the underside was scratchbuilt as the kit had nothing between the frame rails. I admit to getting a little carried away here, as most of this is now visible only to 1/35 scale mice and worms.
The model was painted with Testor.s Model Master enamels and weathered with washes, drybrushing, and powders of various sorts. It is permanently mounted on a piece of resin brickwork. The figure of the Russian officer is for a sense of scale; it was modified from a resin Polish soldier and it is a complete coincidence that it ended up looking like Czar Nicholas.

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