David kicks off … I built my pair of “light VTs” straight out of the box in a matter of hours, with out any problems. Assembly is simple and very positive, thanks to several good location blocks. The only area which you might find a little trying cleaning up the beautifully delicate tracks.
I added a couple of small details which are not included in the kit, these being rear number plates, a drivers mirror and a spring for the aerial mount.
The kit gives a choice of European or desert variants, the main difference being the large stowage box and the sand skirts on the desert version.
Along with this comes a choice of crew for each variant, a spare wheel and nice tarpaulin to fit in the rear stowage bin
Although both turret hatches open some people may be disappointed to find the the drivers compartment is closed down. This was done to extend the mould life and thereby keep the costs down. It is, however, not a difficult operation to open up this area should you wish to.
Time did not allow me to demonstrate this (good excuse!) but I have included a photo which shows the clutter to be found inside for anyone who’s brave enough to have a go.
Whether you decide to open up the vehicle or not, what you get is a delightful model of the Vickers Mark VI Light Tank, capturing its delicate “nose in the air” appearance. A vehicle with the aggressive appearance of an armoured perambulator, but all the more endearing and typically British for that.
Cromwell have hit the mark with this one, filling the gap that has long existed in the market place and I can heartily recommend it. It has the usual Cromwell Models idiosyncrasies, like the somewhat basic instruction sheet, but it shows you what you need to know.
Needless to say, the quality of the resin casting leaves you wondering how certain delicate parts ever leave the mould. The drive sprocket defies description, you have to see one to appreciate it.
Once again, I have been forced to open a fresh tin of sand coloured paint, having volunteered to show off my “light sixes” in their Western Desert role. During research into the the colour scheme, I found one series of photographs kept appearing. These are quite well known and show a group of vehicles of the 1st Royal Tank Regiment on patrol over some fairly rocky desert.
All have the familiar diagonal striped camouflaged pattern. British tanks in North Africa Vanguard No.23 shows these particular vehicles in the colour plates in a striking dark green and black over sand camouflage scheme which I decided to reproduce.
Painting and weathering
I began with an overall coat of sand which I mixed from Humbrol No.187 with about 10% while. This gives an excellent light stone shade which was the first colour that the tanks would have been painted. I always try to keep desert colours light. dusty and faded looking. ‘The camouflage colours were brush painted. beginning with the green and then the black which was mixed with a little sand to fade
It slightly and to help With weathering. Unfortunately when the black was applied I realised that my choice of green was too pale and I reluctantly repainted the green on both vehicles – curses! Both Models were then given washes of darker tone of their respective shades: i.e. pure black on the black areas and a dark sandy grey on the sand areas. When these had dried, light dry-brushing using lighter tones was applied so as to pick out raised detail. Small amounts of pastel were then used to intensify’ areas of shading and add small streaks and smudges to the paintwork
All the markings were hand painted using enamels as I don’t get on With decals. This is obviously fine if you feel confident enough to paint your own markings. but I sympathise with the vast majority of modellers who are no doubt crying out for some form of markings to be included in kits. Many would no doubt expect then1 lo be included in kits of this standard and price and a few manufacturers already do so. but they are in a minority.
If the majority of armour kit manufactures are unwilling to move in this direction then. perhaps. there is an opportunity for some enterprising person to market an independent range of rub down decals, dedicated to new releases from the resin kit manufactures, in much the same way as we can buy add-on detail sets for commercial kits … Just an idea!
To recreate the scouring effect of sand on the paintwork I dry-brushed several shades of green and sand onto vulnerable areas around the front of the tank, the domed area above the driver’s compartment and the turret top, especially around tile hatches where natural wear and tear would quickly damage the paint. This area was also flecked With a little silver and white paint mixed together to give a polished metal effect Rubber on the tyres was painted with a mixture of black and sand for a really dusty appearance and the tracks. which were added at about I.his stage. were painted with the rather appropriately named Track Colour from the Humbrol range. before being dry-brushed with sandy shades and polished metal. The crew figures are both the ones supplied with the kit. but with one of the heads exchanged for one from the Hornet range. On this occasion I was determined to spend as little time as possible on the figures and seating them low down In the turrets certainly helped achieve this. It also suited the idea that 1 had for the diorama.
Bill photographed his vehicle against a distant town
The Vanguard book I mentioned earlier has a photograph on page Ove. showing four or so Light VI’s approaching the summit of a little ridge along I.he top of which runs what appears to be the remains of a stone wall. The lead tank has just crossed it and kicks up a small cloud of dust whilst the other vehicles approach the wall. I set out lo recreate this with two tanks and a lot of Polyfilla. Creating I.he gentle slope proved to be more cllfilcult than I had expected. I laid dawn the basis of the ricl,ge ,vith expanded polystyrene ana added several layers of filler, allowing each to dry and smoothing the curve as much as possible. When the final layer was added I added the small rocks and stones and brushed tlle surface smooth. dragging lhe Iller up and over some of the rocks to create the drifting effect of sand. I tried to position the vehicles as accurately as possible whilst the ground was still wet, but without working suspension there were limits to wbat I could achieve. The whole base was sprayed wtth gouache in a mlxtu[e of tones. trying to keep evecything as dusty as possible. At the same time the Tanks received a light dusting of gouache all over, but especially the running gear and lower surfaces. It only remainea to edge the base in black card and glue the tanks inlo their fmal positions.
David built a pair of MarkVI light tanks and finished them in desert camouflage. Bill photographed them on a local beach using natural light which produced the desired effect shown here.
Bill asks …
“Could an officer with a map be the most dangerous thing in the world?”
He went for an early Second World War setting with the 15th/19th Hussars serving with the British Expeditionary Force in France during 1940.
In 1938 the 15th/19thHussars handed in the last of their horses and began training as a mechanised cavalry regiment. In October 1939 they arrived in Northern France In the role of Divisional Cavalry for the famous 3rd Division. They were equipped with Light VI tanks, cavalry carriers and a variety of motorised transport and were to act in very much the same way that Divisional Cavalry had operated during the early stages of the 1914-18 War.
Traditionally their roles were scouting. picketing and screening during the advance or retreat. The regiment spent the winter and early spring exercising as well as repainting their vehicles in drab colours and seen1ed to have created a favourable impression due to their general aJr of dash and efficiency. On 10th May they crossed the Belgian border at Herseaux and were in action against German forces on the same day.
Being equipped with light armoured vehicles the 15th/ 19th were hardly capable of halting numerically superior German forces, but managed to cover the right flank of the Belgian forces during the withdrawal across the river Dendre at Alost. After this action they could only muster sufficient fighting vehicles to equip one squadron.
They covered the withdrawal of three divisions and by 26th May were reduced to two light tanks and seven carriers, which they were then ordered to hand over to the 5th Royal Dragoon Guards. They were reformed as infantry at a strength of about 125 men and acted as GHQ reserve. The survivors were evacuated at Dunkirk.
Many of the personnel bad been wounded and or captured during the Regiment’s costly actions in Belgium and one member wounded and captured on 18th May at Assache was Squadron Sergeant Major Laing. He rejoined the Hussars after the cessation of hostilities and served until his retirement, having risen to the rank of Major. On retirement he became curator of the Regimental Museum. In the early 1970s I had many conversations with Major Laing. He vividly remembered his experiences in Europe where he bad been responsible for much of the training and day to day running of the Squadron. One of his responsibilities was for the standard of dress of the unit. Battledress was fairly new and the weather was bad during the winter so dress tended towards the practical with leather sleeveless jerkins of WWI being much sought after items of clothing.
The officers dress as they pleased, or so it seemed to SSM Laing. Many clung to their service dress as long as they could and even when the practical aspects of “battledress” were revealed. Greatrcoats were rarely seen. “British warms” and riding mackintoshes being preferred. Many of the officers still wore their regimental side caps which were red and piped gold.
Training and general settling in went fairly smoothly and although orders to repaint tactical markings in white were never carried out. red was used as a much less conspicuous colour. Equipment shortages were always a problem and the larger calibre, .5 inch machine-guns in the tanks were never as reliable as their smaller .303 inch cousins.
The only other “snag” that occurred during training Major Laing remembered was the “habit” of some officers, at first, of very easily getting lost. He recalled they consulted any army driver they encountered for directions.
Painting and markings
I was delighted With Cromwell’s kit of the Vickers Mark VI Light Tank and, having spent all of a couple of hours assembling one, decided to show it involved in an “officer with map and lost” situation.
The model was finished off the standard colour scheme of mid bronze green overpainted with broad bands of deep bronze green. As far as l could see markings were restricted to red tactical markings and all divisional signs seem to pave been overpainted.
I also noted that the vehicles’ number plates seem to have been removed, but the white recognition squares seem to always have been worn, even though they were very conspicuous to enemy gunners.
Most photographs show the vehicles as dusty, frequently with their suspensions covered with mud during wet conditions.
Those who read our review of the Cromwell Mark VI in the December 1992 issue will know that we regarded the model very highly indeed. Not only does it capture the exact look and sit of the vehicle but it is extremely highly detailed.
Although I have always thought of the vehicle as mainly a “Western Desert type”, I had decided to model mine as a 15th/19th Hussars tank. Also. I suspected that David would model his In Western Desert warpaint!
When l’d painted and weathered the model l was pleasantly surprised to see that it looked at least as appealing as in Western Desert guise. l decided to incorporate it on a scenic base with the theme of “Lost in France”.
I needed another vehicle for the idea I had in mind, preferably soft skinned, and eventually settled on a Tonda vacuum formed kit of the Bedford MWC J 5cwt light truck from Czechoslovakia.
Making vacforms is not as daunting a task as it may first seem. Providing you’re willing to spend time and effort, patience will reward you. l built mine “straight from the box” but it’d still describe it as “heavily assisted scratch-building”. I did replace the rolled canvas screens and other small details. When the model was painted and ready for my diorama l was pleased with it, it looked very nice indeed.
Bill second photograph at the local beach
Figures and “scenics”
The figure on the tank came with the kit. His head, however, was replaced by the one from Hornet Models wearing a side cap. The two standing figures were converted from the Hornet MP and standing British infantryman. Their equipment was sawn. pared and filed away to leave a basic battledress configuration and the coats added from Milliput.
The tops of the garments were added first modelled to shape and smoothed. A piece of Milliput was then rolled out to a thin “sheet” and the coat’s skirts, collars and the half belt on the infantry greatcoat cut from this and added. . Detail parts such as the belt – note it’s tied and not buckled, pocket flaps, etc., were added from lead foil.
The base was a very simple Item
showing an earth road laid over a rubble core with g a piece of grass verge showing. This is not difficult to produce from readily available materials or the type you’ll find in a model shop where the railway scenic accessories are displayed. I went for a simple type of base to complement the models and not to overpower them.
Bill’s figures under construction
Component parts of Bill’s Tonda 1:35 scale vacuum formed Bedford truck kit
The complete models on their scenic bases show the scope possible with the Cromwell kit
The open driver’s compartment of a Vickers VI light tank
Reproduced with kind permission of: Doolittle Media – www.adhpublishing.com/
First published in Military Modelling May 1993