Italeri 1/72 Autoblinda AB 41
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The Autoblinda 41 (named after its first year of production, 1941) was a further development of the machine gun armed AB 40. Made with an all-riveted construction, the AB 41 had four-wheel drive and a four wheel steering system that proved troublesome. The spare wheels fitted to its sides were free to rotate, thus helping the vehicle over rough terrain and allowing it to drive over higher obstacles. It could also be fitted with wheels that would allow it to run on railway tracks and some were modified further to better serve in this role, with the addition of sand boxes and rail guards to deflect objects from the rails. This version was designated AB 41 Ferroviaria.
It had six forward gears and four reverse gears, with a driving position at the front and one in the rear, so two crew members were drivers. Overall the AB 40/41 family was well thought out, with a top speed of over 70 km/h (45 mph), good armour (15 mm on the front plates) and good road and cross-country performance, but there were some examples of poor detail design like difficult access to the powerplant, an unprotected fuel tank, one-man turret, exposed traverse gear and lack of an interior bulkhead separating the engine and crew compartments. Nevertheless, the AB 41 was considered a good vehicle and one of the best armoured cars of its era. Its chassis was later used as a basis for the SPA-Viberti AS.42. About 550 vehicles were built in all. The Italians planned to upgrade the AB 41 with a 47 mm anti-tank gun as the AB 43, but those plans were disrupted by the Armistice of Cassibile in September 1943.
As per usual with Italeri 1/72 kits, there is a single tan sprue with very nicely molded parts. Knowing of the relationship concerning ESCI molds and Italeri, I often wonder if this might not be an old ESCI kit. This is probably not the case for this one as the sprue seems to be in too good a shape and it seems a bit large for the usual ECSI boxes.
A rather unusual feature is that the suspension is attached to an upper and lower frame assembly. There are braces slotted in the wheel wells when one attaches the two body sides together to provide the proper distance for the rest of the bodywork. There are six major upper body sections, all of them pretty much flat, but that is actually rather prototypical as one did not often see compound curves on armored cars of the era.
Unlike the real vehicle, the spare wheels do not rotate but are cemented in place. I'd attach these at the end of the build. The turret is pretty standard stuff with a single piece upper turret and a flat lower plate. One assembles the gun first then slides it into the turret. You can pose the turret hatches open if you wish and while there is a gun breech, there is little else to see. No figures are provided so unless you have access to 1/72 Italian WWII figures, you'll probably build this with the hatches closed.
There is the usual mass of pioneer tools and lights to add along with the mufflers and wheels once you attach the chassis to the upper bodywork. Note that the main wheels glue to posts on the chassis so these do not rotate.
Instructions are well done with Model Master enamel and acrylic paint references. The four markings options are all over a base of Italian sand. Three of them have green and brown mottling and one of these is in German markings. The small sheet looks to be nicely done and should cause no issues as I doubt you'll find aftermarket.
In all, a nice kit for the 1/72 military modeler. You don't see a lot of Italian vehicles being done and if you like your armor on wheels, this would be a good choice.
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