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Churchill AVRE

by Werner Kampfhofer


Churchill AVRE

images by Wolfram Bradac

Tamiya's 1/35 scale Churchill Mark VII is available online from Squadron




Tamiya’s 1/35 scale Churchill kit represents a Mark VII, but the earlier Mark IIIs or IVs were used for the AVRE (Assault Vehicle Royal Engineers) version with the 290mm Petard-Mortar. It is therefore necessary to backdate the Tamiya kit, which is quite time consuming and stressful if one is limited to a 1.5 months timeframe!





Tamiya’s Churchill was released in the 1980s. Much to my surprise there are some sinkholes on certain parts of the kit. I did not expect that and I also cannot recall that any review pointing on this.

Kit construction is straightforward. Without the conversion it would have taken only three days to complete this beast.

The AL-BY conversion comprises a hollow turret, the mortar (moveable), the rectangular hatches for the side sponsons and the frontal armour of the upper hull. On earlier Marks a part this frontal armour is angled back a bit, while on the Mark VII the whole armour is vertical. As a result, the upper front armour of the kit does not fit with AL-BY’s front plate. I rebuilt the front and front upper armour from plastic sheet and added details according pictures and photographs.

I also had to remove the 3 periscopes (driver & co driver), shortened two in height and put them back on the vehicle.


Comparing the side sponsons of Mark IV and Mark VII revealed many differences. Apart from the different hatches, Mark VII sponsons were welded and up-armoured. Earlier Marks had them bolted. The design of the opening behind the idler wheel is different. Earlier Marks also had a slide which dealt with the dirt gushing from this hole. I cut off 2/3 of the outer sponsons and rebuilt them with plasticsheet. The slide was built from Evergreen L-profiles.

The smaller bolts were produced with a Grainers Set and 0,4mm Plastic. The big nuts come from a baby’s rattle which I was begging for from a friend of my wife (THANKS, Doris!)

While I was examining photos I discovered that all Churchill AVRE’s with Petard-Mortar had strange mounts fixed on the side sponson. I was puzzled about the functionality, as they were too delicate to carry a dozer but finally I found the reason. The mounts were intended to fix a frame for a bobbin of canvas designed to lay a 10ft. wide carpet over soft sand. Infantry was intended to follow the tank on this carpet. After landing these bobbins were removed from the tanks. Obviously there were different versions of these bobbin mounts in use. Due to the short timeframe I decided to scratchbuilt the easiest design.

At the rear a small box has to be removed, which results in a hole which I covered with a larger box from Verlinden.

Construction of the AL-BY turret is simple, but the fit between upper and lower part is poor. The instructions are provided on a 15x10cm piece of paper. They are scandalous!

Some parts of the mortar were broken off and some seams had to be removed. The cast-on construction numbers were created by using numbers from several sprues. The whole turret was covered with an amount of Squadron Red Putty, thinned with Italeri liquid glue. After 24 hours drying it was sanded with fine sandpaper to recreate the armour texturing.


To represent the texture of the hull I used Italeri liquid glue to soften the plastic and a brush to texture it.

Examining the pictures of original tanks more thoroughly I discovered that the upper sponsons were fixed with nuts and bolts, which are not represented on the kit.

Therefore it was time again for my Grainer’s Set and 0,2mm plastic card. I created the necessary nuts and located them according to pictures and drawings.

A problem appeared while mating the turret with the upper hull because the turret was located too low. I had to insert a slightly raised turret ring to overcome this obstacle.

In practice Churchill Mark VII hulls were a few centimetres wider than the earlier Marks. Due to lack of time I did not address this issue and left the hull at the kit width.





As the model was destined for a diorama, it’s finish was already planned for this future use. It depicts a little used vehicle which is rumbling over the countryside, passing a knocked out bunker.

I airbrushed a base of Tamiya Flat Black and then 3 different shaded layers of Olive Green from the Tamiya and Gunze ranges. I took care to keep the edges and recessed areas dark, which helps to speed up the washing process.

The markings are mostly from the Verlinden dry transfer range. The vehicle name, CYCLOP, was added using dry transfers from Letraset.


After a layer of Gunze Matt 20 I added a “fog” with the airbrush. The “fog” consisted of black and burned sienna oils which were thinned in 1:9 ratio. With the same colours, but less thinner a did the washing.

Finally the kit was rather dark and I tried to brighten it up and dust it with a mixture of olive and earth. Although the paint had an earth tone in the cup it turned out into a bright olive after airbrushing it on the vehicle.

I don’t have a clue why it happened, but it was okay so far and, anyway, the tank still did not look dusty!

Before I had time to fall into desperation, my friend Carlos Elias saved my day and a parcel with some samples of a new “magic dust powder” from MIG (Miguel Jeminez ) arrived at my home.

These powders should be available around September 2002 in the hobbyshops. At first glance they looked to me like the colour powders which are offered from German company FALLER ( railway supply ). In addition to the FALLER’s colour range, MIG’s powder is available in sand yellow and white as well.

I used a mixture of sand yellow and earth-coloured powder. The advantage of MIG’s product is that the powder does not stick to the surface as heavy as pastels do. This is true, but you need a lot of experience and it takes much wiping and rubbing to get the desired result.

I definitely need some more sessions to get familiar with this method of adding dust. Maybe a dark kit is not the best choice to start with…


The dirt was made from earth, sand, static grass and Revell airbrush paints (earth, grey) which then was added with a brush.

Scratches and worn off paint was simulated with a pencil and Humbrol No 53, but on the dark model the effect did not come out as expected.

I am a bit unhappy with the colour of the tracks but I have not had time to correct it yet.





  • Tamiya News 3: Churchill

  • Vanguard 13: The Churchill Tank.

  • Militaria Magazine: 29 & 32

  • FSM: 12/98

  • Concord: D-Day Tank Warfare

  • Different Internetfiles

You can see more of Werner's models at his homepage: www.rlm.at



Additional Images


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Model and Text Copyright © 2003 by Werner Kampfhofer
Images Copyright © 2003 by Wolfram Bradac
Page Created 28 March, 2003
Last Updated 17 March, 2004

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