Airfix 1/76 British Mk.I tank (male)

Media: Injection molded plastic

Decals: None

Accuracy: Looks authentic in finished form

Overall: B+

Review and Photo By: Bob Swift

I wrote in an earlier review that this model was a WWI, Mk IV Heavy Tank, at least that was what the sheet attached to the plastic bag said. After rooting around in my attic stock of military books I found the Profile #3, AFV, for this beast, and it is clearly a Mk I; complete with short barreled six pounders. This feature identifies it as a "Male", rather than a "Female", the latter being equipped with an abundance of machine guns, usually Vickers and Hotchkiss weapons in equal number. The 'Female' tank was built in equal ratio to the 'Male' to support the canon armed version against enemy ground troops who might attack and disable it , thus preventing the 'Male' from destroying enemy fortifications and strong points which was its primary role. Powered by a Daimler in-line six cylinder engine of 105 b.h.p.; top speed was 3.7 to 4.0 mph. The six pounder canon was a short barreled Hotchkiss naval gun; later canon were the longer, higher velocity weapons that were originally envisioned, but since the Master-General of Ordinance refused to provide army weapons for the task, the Royal Navy came through with the short barreled Hotchkiss guns to keep the project moving.

As the horrific slaughter on both sides continued under inept leadership in France, some of the more enlightened thinkers in England (Churchill was one who extended his influence before the Galipoli fiasco) brought together the disparate ideas and design technology to evolve the so called, "landship", for the sole purpose of breaking the deadly stalemate that was bleeding the combatants to death. Some tactical thinking was evolved on deployment and use of this new weapon, and while Haig and his headquarters agreed not to spread the force available too thinly, or commit them in nickel packets; when they were first committed to battle at Flers-Courcelette in May, 1917; you guessed it; they were spread too thinly and too few in number at any given point, to be decisive; which is just as well, for while some modest gains were achieved, little more than vague thought had been given to what the follow-up tactics should be once a break through was accomplished. But it was a beginning, and in the end, the tank forces contributed to the final defeat of the Kaiser and his Prussian military.

This kit is molded in silver-grey plastic with very little noticeable flash to deal with. Like the Flak 88 it is beautifully molded with excellent, accurate detail. Part fit is exceptional; didn't use one drop of filler anywhere. The only slightly off-beat exception is the cannon turrets, which are moveable, and don't quite make the seal with the sponson sides as they should. It would have been better if these had been molded in place with appropriate slots for the guns, but it doesn't detract too much from the final model, unless you look really close with a penlight and dental mirror. Guns had to be drilled out due to their size, to be more realistic. The exterior steering-assist, wheeled bogie and hydraulic ram for lifting them, is very accurately rendered. We rooted around in the parts box and found a pair of aircraft rocket rails that were modified and added to the top of the tank, along with a plank platform, so that we could include the brush-wood fascine which was used to dump in a trench that was too deep to cross unassisted. My wife will never miss the straws I cut from her broom to make the bundle of sticks.

The track was the real down side of this model; like the Kfz. 7, we were faced with the same greasy plastic material that refuses to be glued in place. Like the kit before, the tracks were sewn together, but their extreme length is such that they won't stay in place once mounted. Drilled a few holes down each side, along the track race, with a # 78 drill and epoxyed fine wire pushed through the undersides of the tracks and into the holes. That seems to have anchored them very well.

Camouflage patterns are questionable, and I don't see any pictures in the Profile that support the patterns depicted in the color centerfold; since this was done at the front, I suspect it was pretty much hit-or-miss with whatever was available for paint at the moment. This model looks very realistic, and was well worth the time invested; now I'll have to build a few WWI aircraft to keep it company on the shelf.

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