söndag 1 april 2012

RB Model Metal Barrels

You might remember that I recently bought a box of PSC Panzer IV tanks. As I want to use them as the F2 version I decided to try out the RB Model range of metal barrels to convert them.

A Panzer IV F2 during combat in the the Volkhov pocket in 1942.
As you can see on the photo above the F2 variant has a very distinct muzzle brake, not used on later versions. I have been tempted by the products of RB Model in poland for some time now and this was an excellent opportunity.

The Plastic Soldier Company Panzer IV. Notice the shape and length of the gun barrel.
The PSC kit is not incorrect, it's the early G version which was introduced after the F2. Read more about it in my blog post here. Ordering the barrels is straightforward if you know what you are after. All the different variants RB Model produces are labelled with correct product designations and what vehicle (or vehicles) they are intended for. In this case I bought the 75mm KwK 40 L/43 for Pz. Kpfw. IV Ausf. F2. Clear as sausage broth, as we say in Sweden. They were shipped the same day and arrived three days later, excellent service!

The barrel with muzzle brake.
The barrels are made of turned aluminium, the muzzle brakes are brass, but I'm not sure if they are cast or turned or shaped in some other way. The fit is very exact, you can push the brake onto the barrel without too much hassle and it stays there without glue. I might drip some super glue into the join later, but I don't think it will be necessary.

The business end of the gun.
At first I thought the barrels were underscale when I compared them to the PSC barrels, but then I realized that the F2 gun is shorter than the later gun used on the G version. That's what the 75mm KwK 40 L/43 designation means: it means the length of the barrel is 43 times it's caliber, or 43 times 75mm. The gun used on later versions is called 75mm KwK40L/48, which means it has a longer barrel.

Comparison between the two barrels.
Fitting the barrel to the kit was also straightforward; just removing the old barrel with a plastic cutter and inserting the aluminium barrel in it's place. A drop of superglue was enough to secure it.

The finished conversion.
One might debate the sense in using a 2,68€ barrel upgrading a kit worth around 5€; wouldn't it make sense to use a better and more accurate kit to begin with? Well... it depends on how much time you have. Better and more accurate kits tend to have more parts to assemble and thus takes longer to build. The extra details might not be suitable for wargaming either, and better kits would probably still cost more than the combined cost of the PSC kit with RB Model barrel. Sure, if you only want one tank maybe, but what wargamer has ever been satisfied with just one of anything?

Stick them with the pointy end... oops, wrong game!

In my mind the shape of the barrel is very noticeable and worth the cost and effort of correcting, while things like lift rings, the guide teeth on the inside of the tracks and correct number of rivets on the armour plate will not be seen on the gaming table.

In conclusion I give the RB model's aluminium barrels 5 out of 5 points. Great service, good looking product, no clean-up necessary, easy assembly. What's not to like?

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