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In-Box Review
Swedish ''S'' Tank
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:

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Remembering Aurora
Aurora was one of the pioneers of plastic modeling. Their large series of standardized 1/48 scale models of aircraft and armor evolved from toy models into models as miniature prototypes that we expect today. However, Auroraís star dimmed and some of their models were issued under the K&B logo. Eventually Aurora died. Some of their molds were acquired and reissued by other companies. Monogramís 1/48 F-111, A-7, Fokker D.VII, Sopwith Camel and Se-5a are Aurora models. It was reported that Monogram bought the lionís share of the Aurora tooling but that most molds were destroyed in a train wreck in the late 1970s.

Aurora has never been considered in the same league as Tamiya but some of their 1/48 armor produced in the 1960s was as good, if not better, than what Tamiya released at that time. This S-Tank (Stridjvagen 103 A) is considered a better model than the 1/48 Tamiya S-Tank. Aurora's PzKpfw V Panther, PzKpfw VI Tiger II, IS-3 (or T-10 ?) Stalin, and M-46 Patton are considered toys in need of complete rebuilding. Auroraís S-Tank is a fair model and definitely one of the cooler models Aurora gave the modeling world! Your reviewer offers mainly photographs and defers to you as to whether that still holds true.

The Model(s)
I wonít try to describe this vintage kit in great detail - instead Iíll let the photos do the talking. The only things I know about the Strv-103 "S-Tank" is that it was one of the first five tank models I built, that I think it is incredi-cool. I have read that Aurora cut their tooling based on a development between the prototype and the Strv-103 A, this model lacking flotation/fording gear. An informative article about it can be accessed through Stridsvagn 103 in the summary box, below.

The kit consists of around 80 parts of hard dark olive styrene (including four figures), and a pair of vinyl rubber band tracks. Unfortunately, several parts are off the sprues; I attempted to arrange them per sub-component.

The parts vary between sharp and soft molding. Many suffer from seam lines and ejector marks, some sinkholes, and flash. There is no texture on the metal surfaces. No attempt was made to simulate any weld seams.

The figures have soft detail and mold marks. Their detail quality is pictured for you to judge. Two have a separate arm. In the late 1960s Aurora made vacuform terrain display bases and created square boxes to accommodate them. Before the square box was made, the SPG was packed in a long box (see image above, courtesy of OldModelKits.com).

Aurora simulated the fully automated hydro pneumatic suspension by sandwiching two rocking suspension inserts between the lower hull sides. Those are further affixed to the hull bottom plate. A group of raised lines molded inside the hull snag tabs on the suspension inserts, allowing the modeler to pose the S-Tank with the gun elevated or depressed. The real S-tank's 105mm Bofors was fixed in place and aimed by aiming the tank.

Aurora created their models with a mix of separate pieces and molded-on detail for items like pioneer tools, and engine and crew access hatches. There are only a few separate pieces.

The figures are little more than humanoid lumps of plastic. Two of the riflemen appear to have M1 Garands and one has some kind of LMG or assault rifle.

Instructions, painting, decals
Aurora used line art and half-tones for graphics. The illustrated steps are supported with text.

Painting guidance is basic.

Decals include markings for two tank destroyers and two styles of national insignias. A decal placard identifying the model with the Swedish national flag was added when the display base model was released. Registration is poor.

Aurora was a major player back in the early days and they can claim some notable firsts. These models are not very good by today's standards yet they have great nostalgic value to modelers of a certain generation.

I am one of those modelers and plan to build my S-tank. Careful painting can overcome some of the technological limitations of the day.

P.S., for fun I added a YouTube video of live-fire tests against the S-Tank, below:

Thanks to OldModelKits.com for use of the box art.

Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: A 1/48 S-Tank.
Lows: Fair molding and simplified detail. The figures are little more than humanoid lumps of plastic.
Verdict: Great nostalgic value to modelers of a certain generation.
  Scale: 1:48
  Mfg. ID: 316 (328)
  Related Link: Stridsvagn 103
  PUBLISHED: May 11, 2016

About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


Hi Jeff, Jonathan, Thanks guys. Yes, I think the box art of these old kits is great. I've kept the art off some kits that I've built. (I even have the box art from my Tamiya Tiger I I built in the mid-1970s.) The art is so popular that there are websites dedicated to it. Al at oldmodelkits.com knows a lot about the artists, Jo Kotula, Jack Leynnwood, Ray Gaedke, et al., and I get my knowledge from him. He even has articles about some of them on his site. Jeff, I think you've seen the other Aurora reviews before but in case you just found this one, here's the page with 20 URLs of Aurora reviews I've made: Aurora reviews There are more on the way! When I get the Okay from Al, who kindly allowed me to photograph many of his old Aurora kits for review, I will be posting reviews of more tanks as well as Aurora's complete series of 1/48 helicopters.
MAY 11, 2016 - 06:57 PM
Jonathan, Those tracks are still a challenge for me TODAY! I love the bases. Here's one tricked out with static grass and other foilage(more are forthcoming):
MAY 11, 2016 - 07:02 PM
I will check them out soon! Speaking of the bases, I liked the decal sheet had the name tag of the vehicle and it's nations flag next to it as well. It really set them apart from other kits. Jeff
MAY 11, 2016 - 08:36 PM
i have one in trumpeter 1/72nd scale.
MAY 12, 2016 - 02:13 AM
I totally agree. The vibrant backgrounds on some of the boxes, such as the "S" tank's box, even make it look like World War 3 is happening in the background. For other examples of what I refer to as the "apocalyptic look" see the boxes for the Stalin tank: LINK an MBT-70: LINK
MAY 12, 2016 - 04:01 AM
Thank you so much for posting this. I was actually trying, without success, to find pictures of the Aurora S Tank last month. This kit was one of the favorite builds of one of my friends as a kid. He remembered that the suspension was at least semi-workable to allow the gun to be raised and lowered. Can you confirm this is the case?
MAY 12, 2016 - 04:08 AM
he described that feature in the "gee-whiz!" portion of the review.
MAY 12, 2016 - 04:27 AM
he described that feature in the "gee-whiz!" portion of the review. [/quote] Thanks, I missed that paragraph scrolling through.
MAY 12, 2016 - 04:37 AM
If any one you would like it, I can scan the box top and post it. It is not mint, but it is in good shape. I'll also post photos of the instructions when I find them.
MAY 12, 2016 - 10:27 AM

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