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1/35 Tamiya British Challenger 1 Mk.3

Great Britain has a long and interesting history of armored vehicle use and development. In fact they coined the term “TANK” for such weapons, and are known as well, for their superb designs. Their latest version of the Challenger Main Battle Tank is regarded as on of the most advanced armored fighting vehicles in service in the world today. Modern technology has enabled several outstanding improvements in its firepower, crew protection, and mobility, to meet the demands of today’s battle conditions.

The Challenger demonstrated and proved its combat worth during the recent Gulf Conflict. In addition to painting the tank with an overall sand color, many modifications for desert operations were accomplished, including an improved cooling system; better air cleaners; a reinforced transmission; extra side skirts from Chobham armor for added protection, plus bolt-on Reactive armor applied to the frontal area.

An additional 200 liters of fuel was carried in external tanks mounted on the rear of the tan, which greatly extended its range; extra external stowage bins; and the use of maintenance free batteries.

Despite operations in the harsh desert environment, the Challengers maintained an outstanding “in service” and availability figure that exceeded 90%. This achievement, along with its accurate and heavy firepower, pointed to the Challenger as being one of the best main battle tanks used during the Conflict.

1/35 Tamiya British Challenger 1 Mk.3

The 1:35th Challenger 1 Mk. 3 from Tamiya is in my opinion, a ‘shake and bake‘ kit in terms of general fit. No real struggles with fit issues whatsoever. The Mk.3 comes with several parts including decals should you decide to make your Challenger a NATO version.

The kit was complemented with an Eduard PE set # 35322 which has a comprehensive selection of parts in metal. Most of this photo etched parts wont be notable once the kit receives it first coat of paint. Many of them were not used as I found that the kit detail could suffice (my opinion).

Painting your British Challenger:

As many of you already know, I use for the most parts Acrylics leaving Testors Enamel colors for certain applications usually with a brush. In this case I used Model Master Acryl British Gulf Armor Light (4813). While this could be the right color, let me be honest with you. I’m not 100% satisfied with it as a base color, to my eyes it looks a bit dark. I am already taking care of that with the Challenger 2 Desertised version also from Tamiya.

I have mixed a 50/50 Acryl 4813 with Acryl Sand 4720 and it has that ”bleached” look from operational British Challengers in the Iraqui theater.
Once the kit was painted, I mixed a little bit of the base color with Testors ”Leather” Brown. Free hand with a AZTEK’s A470 airbrush I post shaded areas that naturally would look darker due to light and shadow. To finish it up, I added a very light coat of Tamiya X-19 ‘SMOKE’ in selected areas also free hand with the AZTEK A470 and ‘Tan’ Nozzle.

The side skirts on the tank received a 25 PSI mist of Tamiya Buff XF-57. The tracks were washed with warm water and soap, painted with Polly ScaleGrimy Black” and once installed, they received a hand brush coat of Vallejo Pigment Light Yellow Ocre 73102 and there you have it.


OK, I must admit that I’m not familiar with British hardware and when it came to the Challenger, I asked myself, where’s the stowage? Other than Jerry and Water Cans, there’s nothing else either with the kit or as an accessory kit like Tamiya’s Modern Military Equipment Set kit # 35266. So of I went to FSM Forums for help on this matter. Here is what some knowledgeable active members had to say:

Forum member Carlos, AKA Stikpusher
One thing I that I noticed during my service time was that most foreign armies individual soldiers are not so lavishly equipped as US soldiers. We tend to issue more gear, comfort items, and uniforms to our soldiers. Not to mention what soldiers buy, trade, or otherwise acquire for themselves along the way.

And comparing stowage on an IFV like the Bradley to an MBT like the Abrams of Challenger is not a valid comparison. The Bradley carries an 8 man rifle squad in a smaller vehicle vs. a 4 man tank crew. The rifle squad has twice the amount of water and ration requirements, NBC protective gear,  plus their associated specialty gear such as individual Night Vision Gear and optics for themselves and weapons, Man Pack radios and sapre batteries, ATGM such as Javelin, shoulder fired AT weapons, ammo for weapons like grenade launchers, belt fed small arms automatic weapons, etc. More stuff, to again put in a smaller space…. IFVs and APCs get crowded real quick.

Forum member 'Bish' from Odiham, Hampshire. England

No, we don’t like to store stuff on the outside, its rather frowned upon. When i was driving a Warrior, the only things on the outside were the crew tent, cam net, and maybe the day sacks and a few bit and pieces that wouldn’t go inside in the turret bin.

Plus roll mats bungeed to the back of the bin. There is the odd exception. We did spend a couple of weeks driving round the Canadian prairie with ration boxes strapped to the front because we had so many rations.

But that was about it The only things i have noticed on the back of Challenger tanks is a few roll mates attached to the rear of the turret. And having stuff stored inside doesn’t stop the stuff getting damaged. During live firing, when every one was closed down, we used to take great joy in ‘accidentally’ hoseing down the back of our challys with our 7.62 chain guns. Just where the bin were that stored there sleeping bags and other items.

There is the odd exception. We did spend a couple of weeks driving round the Canadian prairie with ration boxes strapped to the front because we had so many rations. But that was about it. But there doesn’t seem to be much British kit on the market.

Final Verdict
This is a highly recommended kit, a must for modern weapons and military hardware.

George Collazo
George Collazo

George has been hosting review sites and blogging about toy collectibles, travel, digital photography and Nikon digital imaging since 1998. His first model kit build was a Testors 1/35 DODGE WC-54 in 1984.