At first glance, the Space Marine Rhino may appear to be somewhat unimpressive (to most of your 40K opponents). This is hardly surprising, as it's armour is on the lighter side - being considerably more vulnerable, when fired at, by even a slightly more powerful conventional weapon (such as a Chaos Autocannon, a Krak Missile Launcher and a Ork Kustom Mega-Blasta). Whereas the Rhino's intended use is as a troop transporter (within Space Marine armies), it is when the Rhino is combined with the lust of trigger-happy Space Marines, that we see it's first evolution - as a powerful mobile weapons platform (aka Tank). The first such Rhino variant that I have added to my Space Wolves army, is my Predator Annihilator:
Perhaps it was a voice from The Fang, perhaps it was with the foresight of Russ himself, I'm not entirely sure ... Yet it was, that I only ever considered constructing the triple-armed Lascannon version of this tank (two side/sponson mounted Lascannons and one turret mounted twin-linked Lascannon) - ignoring the possibility of two Heavy Bolters (entirely). Upon the first battle, was this decision vindicated: my Predator Annihilator opened fire and destroyed a Space Marine Dreadnought (with three penetrating hits, ripping the armoured sarcophagus apart, immediately slaying an ancient Dark Angels Space Marine). Upon the second battle, was this decision cemented: my Predator Annihilator opened fire and severely wounded a Chaos Daemon Prince (with three direct hits, even Daemonic Stature failed to protect, leaving just one wound, from Daemonic Essence, and pause-for-thought, on behalf of the Chaos commander!). Yet a Space Marine commander should not be so easily convinced! As within, a later battle, did a Blood Angels Dreadnought tear into the armour of my Predator Annihilator: it's front armour failed to hold up to a Power Fist! Then again, within a later battle, did the (same) Chaos Daemon Prince, exact his revenge: 2D6 plus strength (6) and a Dark Blade (plus 2), proved too much for the side armour! Thus did I (the Space Wolves commander) learn some important lessons: a Predator Annihilator is most effective when it's kept out of hand-to-hand combat, is orientated to face the enemy (so any hits are taken on the thickest front armour), which in-turn, allows you to bring all three Lascannons to bear, on a single target - take that Dreadnought! Now, this is the first Space Wolves heavy-tank that I ever painted: it's an older Predator Annihilator (fifteen years or so), yet it still looks great on the battlefield! When constructing: I assembled and glued the main plastic parts (i.e. the chassis), then (when dry), super-glued the metal tank top into place (excluding the turret) and super-glued the side sponsons bottom plus inner-side to the chassis (excluding the Lascannons and side sponsons top/front). This greatly simplified painting - as I could treat this main-part as a simple (all be it heavier) Rhino chassis: under-coating in Chaos Black (spray paint), tank brushing in The Fang, and dry-brushing with Elf Grey. I was then able to use a Fine Detail Brush (with Chaos Black) to paint the tracks, grills, funnels and view-slits. I also made use of a cocktail stick when I painted the (Chaos Black) rivets - by dabbing the end in Chaos Black, and then dabbing onto the rivet. A dry-brush in bolt-gun was then sufficient to complete the core painting of my Predator Annihilator. I then decided to show the lineage/connection to a Space Marine Rhino: I included the same Grey Hunter and Blood Claw Pack Markings (that I have on my Rhino), even though a Predator Annihilator, is unable to transport troops of any kind! I then assembled the three Lascannons, and worked on them separately (with the same approach as the main tank chassis). I then used a modelling file, to file-off a small amount of paint, so that I could glue the remaining parts of the side sponsons on - touching up, where necessary, after the glue had dried. I found the glueing of the turret, into the turret base, extremely challenging! I had to use my rotary kit, to remove both paint and metal, from the inside edge, of the turret base (so that it would fit on). I was eventually successful (none-the-less), and the final results speak for themselves! Overall: the Predator Annihilator is a Space Marine tank that shall add tremendous fire-power to your army. It's capable of destroying vehicles (such as Dreadnoughts and Chaos Defilers). It's also capable of wounding/slaying special characters (such as the Eldar Avatar and a Chaos Daemon Prince). Being equipped with three Lascannons, it's probably not worth shooting at normal squads (unless there's nothing else to shoot at, or you wish to destroy a Devastator Squad). Despite being powerful, it's not a Space Marine Land Raider (nor is it as forgiving): if you expose it's armour to hand-to-hand combat weapons (such as Power Fists, Lightning Claws and Daemon Princes), you are likely to regret it! As such, it's a vehicle that I like to keep away from the enemy (sometimes, even reversing, so that I can increase the distance, between the enemy and my tank/army). Such a tactic may not work though - especially if your up against Imperial Guard or Chaos Iron Warriors (as their big guns shall leave you vulnerable). On the plus side, the Predator Annihilator, costs less than a Land Raider (in terms of points) - which means you may be able to wield two or three (of them) - giving you six to nine Lascannons to fire! I also enjoyed being able to customise my Predator Annihilator - as I decided to opt for a Dozer Blade (great for difficult terrain tests) and Extra Armour (which I feel, is modelled appropriately by the kits metal top/turret base). Perhaps my ultimate customisation is the fact that I glued the rear ramp on upside down (for consistency with my Rhino) - which means (in theory) that your troops may get shot in the ankles! In Conclusion: I found this an enjoyable kit to make, especially as it took me several weeks painting (mostly in the evenings at weekends) - and I am extremely pleased with the finished model!