by: Darren Baker [ ]
Originally published on:
The huge and interesting world of tanks that was started in World War 1 with huge beasts trundling slowly across the battlefield has taken on a new life recently. Since the 100th anniversary of World War 1 a number model companies have taken to releasing modern produced models of the vehicles that started the line of tanks. In this build review I will be tackling the WW1 Medium Tank Mk.A Whippet by Takom. I intend to build the model as the preserved vehicle at Bovington Tank Museum, this tank is the vehicle in which Lieutenant C.H. Sewell was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. This does mean that some parts will be need to be left off and once build there are at least two cover plates that I will need to remove.
The build begins at the usual point with the building of the running gear, unusually this takes up 14 of the 24 stages of the model. Beginning with the road wheels, of which there are a huge number, 84 if you count the return rollers. This section consists of 5 different sub-assemblies and so I cut free all of the parts and placed the various parts in separately marked Ziploc plastic bags marked with the corresponding letter code, in order to get the correct wheels in the correct place. I was a little overwhelmed with the prospect of cleaning up all of the parts relating to the wheels; however it occurred to me that only the return rollers needed to be cleaned up as the only wheels that can be seen on the finished model, unless of course you opt to show a tank that has thrown its tracks. When assembling the road wheels you are informed not to use glue, I glued them as they will not be rotating on the finished model and it made the stage where you close up the area far easier.
With the road wheels assembled and my sanity intact, I moved onto the drive and idler wheels. The idlers go together easily, but the connection is a little sloppy, so be careful to align the cut-outs before putting the down to cure. The same issue is present in the connection of the drive wheels and so again make sure the teeth are aligned before putting them down to cure. I was disappointed in this slack joint and more than a little surprised to find this issue in a new model.
The other parts of the model in this area are well designed and once cleaned up fit together very well. I glued the road wheels and return rollers in place as it makes assembly so much easier as you progress and there is no benefit that I can see, to keeping them moveable. The hard part of the assembly is the adding of the outer side panel, this is because of so many parts needing to line up and is also why I glued the wheels in place, except that is for the idler and drive wheels.
There are a number of photo etched hooks that fit to the outer face of this assembly. The instructions tell you to fit them before the out face is attached, DO NOT attach these parts until the model is finished or you will be looking for them every time you knock them off. I will add that I feel photo etch fails to replicate these parts well and I would use them as a pattern for replacement with a fine wire at the end of the build. Takom supply nine, what I believe are grousers, for the side of the vehicle, these are not present on the Bovington example and so I have left them off. One thing I am not overly impressed about is the way that the gates between the parts and the sprues in some cases are attached to both the sides and wraps around the rear faces, this increases the clean-up time and means that if it is not done 100% you will have fitting issues.
The tracks supplied by Takom in this offering are excellent. They fit together so easily that I made both workable track runs in a total of 10 minutes. There is an ejection mark on the centre of the inner face of each track link, but unless depicting a thrown track, this will not matter. The instructions tell you to use 69 track links for each run, but I found that 67 links in each run provided a perfect fit. I checked the tracks and these assemblies against my own reference images and found them to be excellent matches to the real vehicle. I cannot vouch for the dimensional accuracy, but it does look good size wise.
Moving onto the main body of the tank, Takom has done a great job of the rear as the parts fit together flawlessly and are easily a match for anything produced by any other company. There are two photo etched parts in this area, but these are again missing from the Bovington example and even if you are building a different vehicle, you will likely damage or break these parts if fitted at this point in time.
It is now time to mate the two lots of running gear together with the body. Takom has again used wrap around sprue gates on some parts, and this includes the recessed mating points, it is a real pain to clean up. If you have taken your time and got the parts cleaned up fully then the fit is very good. I do wish that Takom would select end on gates for areas where there is a recessed mating area and then use the wrap around gates in flat areas where sanding is not an issue. As such the lower hull goes together well providing you get the clean up right. I am again very impressed with the detail and accuracy of the model Takom has produced as I have an image of the underside of a Whippet and this area looks to match my reference.
The upper portion of the hull is next and believe it or not, this has only taken me a couple of days work thus far. Well shock horror there is not a lot to tell you. The parts again go together well and match my reference well. There is the issue of the wrap around sprue gates again and on one occasion the wrap around is on the detailed face of a part, this makes clean up particularly tricky unless you want to be adding new rivet detail.
The fighting compartment is the last stage of construction and as expected shares all of the same complaints as the rest of the model parts, but also has all of the highs as well. Moulding detail looks very good and as previously accurate. One thing I would have liked to see moulded as separate pieces are the viewing hole covers, they are instead moulded in a closed position on the model. The four machine guns have nice moulded detail, but they have not been slide moulded and so the end of the barrels will need to be drilled. Another thing that is a bit of a pain is that each gun is attached to the sprue via 5 points and so clean up is again harder than I believe it needs to be. The rings that the MG’s sit in should really be located in place prior to the various panels of the fighting compartment being assembled, trust me you will be glad you did.
Finally you add the roof of the fighting compartment and the build is finished and it is at this point you will finally find out if you got everything right. I found that a little fettling was required to get everything fitted correctly, but the finished result told me that I was pretty close. I again emphasize the importance of taking your time with the clean up. Total build time for this example was 12 hours not counting curing time, and I completed the build in two days.
I really enjoyed this build and I was pleased with the finished result. The build process was only really held back by the difficulty of the clean-up of some parts, but progress is still pretty quick. I am not a fan of only being provided with paints in the AMMO by Mig range due to modellers all having their own preference of paint, not to mention availability. I do like that the sprue letters are cut out and so easy to find, you will notice the benefit of this as your eyes get older. The detail and accuracy of the model is very good from what I can see compared to my reference photographs. I have also compared the model to period images of the Whippet and all of the details that I have not used are accurate parts. What I do have to do now is find a set of decals for the Bovington Tank Museum Whippet, I am a little surprised that this vehicle has been overlooked by Takom.