Ariete C1 Antica Babilonia
Trumpeter : #00394 Italian C1 Ariete MBT with uparmored

The Ariete is a tank designed in Italy which benefitted of the R&D of the OF40 program. The first prototype was built in 1986 and the first production tanks were issued to the Italian army in 1995. The production was over in 2001.
The tank mounts a 120mm 44 calibers gun capable of firing any NATO ammunition. The Galileo TURMS OG14-L3TU fire control system which works in the hunter-killer mode, enables the fire while on the move.
The secondary armament of the Ariete consists in three 7.62mm MG42/59 and 8 Galix smoke grenades launchers.
The crew is made of four members : a driver, a gunner and a tank commander on the right and a radio/loader on the left.

During Operation Antica Babilonia, the Italian participation to the invasion of Iraq, some of the Ariete were fitted with extra modular armor packages. Moreover, the turret MG were fitted with a shield. The Arabic letterings on the sides mean Italy.

The Trumpeter kit is the second made by the Chinese manufacturer. So it re-use the main component of the basic tank and is completed by a sprue dedicated to the add-on armor, a small sheet of photoetched (PE) parts and a sheet of decals. Trumpeter also modified the gun barrel which was not accurate in the first kit.

The kit comes in a sturdy cardboard box and is composed of 5 sprues, a 2-part hull, a 2-part turret, a PE sheet, a bit of printed clear film for the vision blocks glasses, a sheet of decals, a length of twisted cable and 2 vinyl tracks. The instructions come in a 12-page booklet plus a sheet with 2 color profiles for the decoration step.

The level of detail is quite good and the carving is generally nice. There are very few sink marks, but because of them the bustle bin requires the largest preparation work. The instructions are easy to follow with only those for the PE parts needing some attention.

The build is straight from the box and the modifications will be minor. The chassis assembly comes without any difficulty. The sprockets and idler wheels ae not glued at this stage to facilitate the weathering and the installation of the tracks. The latter are too long and one needs to cut one link to avoid an excess of sagging.

Then the upper hull is built. Again, it is not glued to the chassis to enable the painting of it. The side armor packages are glued being sure they sit really vertically. In fact, the upper positioning hole is too deep compared to the lower ones. Trumpeter give the option of building the version with the additional armor package. The armor packages are detailed with tiny PE lifting eyes which require a bit of patience for their installation.
The driver hatch gets three solid vision blocks as separate parts. They are not installed at this stage. The other parts are glued without any trouble.
To stick to the pictures of tanks deployed to Iraq, the side mirrors are not installed. Only their brackets and rods are used. The latter are cut and oriented to their stowage position. The towing hooks are provided in two parts to remain mobile.

The turret requires a bit more of attention than the rest of the vehicle. in the step 15 Trumpeter mis labeled the PE parts. Instead of PE6, you have to read PE3. Anyway, if you applied the order of the building steps, you won't have any PE6 parts left.
The clear film is too thin. It is only used as a template to cut the glasses in a blister plastic sheet.
The part C15 is fixed. In fact, unlike what is shown on the instructions drawing the slot for the co-axial MG is missing.
The Galix brackets necessarily must be glued before the turret add-on armor.
Like with the hull add-on armor, you must be careful that they are vertical. In this purpose, the positioning holes are filled. On the right add-on armor package, the crowbar C20 is too long and its upper bracket must be modified using as a reference pictures from the Internet or the Auriga book.
The TC main sight is detailed by thinning the mobile protection and adding its two eyelets. The inner face of the bustle bin features some sink marks that must be filled.

For the painting, a coat of XF67 NATO green is sprayed over the sub-assemblies. After a coat of gloss varnish is applied, the decals are set. The decoration is done per the instructions. Trumpeter do not give any unit indication.
An initial weathering is applied to the running gear prior to setting the tracks and gluing both hull halves. Do not forget to glue the driver vision blocks. The latter have got the usual coat of matt black followed by another of Tamiya clear blue.
The turret sights and vision blocks have their inner face painted clear blue then mat black before being set in place.
The first weathering is done according to the oil dots method. Then when dry, the dusty look is made by spraying several layers  of highly diluted XF59 Sand Yellow and XF57 Buff. This is done by insisting on the "dust traps". To achieve this step, MIG Gulf War sand pigments are applied to give some texture to the dust.

Reference : Auriga Publishing International Photofile Ariete MBT #ISBN 88-88711-21-X