|NOTES:||A beautifully fitting kit|
I am an Australian soldier, so I can appreciate the vital role that camouflage and deception play for an Army deployed in the field. And I am a modeller who enjoys building WWII and thinking outside the square. While doing some more private research (= reading books) about camouflaging, I happened on photos and a description of how the British could disguise a WWII Crusader tank to make it look like a truck to a distant casual observer. This was done by putting a camouflage kit, code-named a ‘SUNSHADE’, over the tank. As an aside, tanks were often seen still with the disguise kit still in place because of the shade it provided.
I read Tom Roskelly’s review of this kit in MM, and as Tom’s review made it seem like an easy build, and as I knew I had one of these in my stash, I extracted it and set to work. In fact, I found that I had two. But I like something different, so I decided to extend my two Crusaders. My idea was to build six dummy tanks being towed by the two Crusader tanks. But I got bogged-down with the soldering side of the project, so I reduced my build to two (or one) dummy tanks behind one Crusader tank (but that is another story). This left me with a spare tank. So I concentrated on this one, and decided to build it disguised as a truck - besides, the execution sounded easier to do.
The assembly entailed a lot of too’ing and fro’ing between construction and painting. Suffice to say that all painting was done on parts or assemblies, but it was completed prior to final assembly. Still, a little touch-up painting was needed before completion. (I built the other tank at the same time). I built her in a buttoned-down format.
The kit instructions and the photo of the disguised tank showed full length track guards along the sides of the tank hull, but the kit didn’t provide them. Pity, because these are what some of the pieces of the disguise kit rested on. Fortunately, they were easily fabricated from plastic card. For structural strength (and because I’m lazy) I cut each track guard and its two disguise side boards as a single piece of card. Detail was scribed on, or glued. The track guard element was painted as often as the tank hull while the side boards received fewer coats to give them a lighter shade.
As per the kit instructions, the tank was painted Desert Sand – the Citadel Miniatures Desert Sand was a near-enough shade to midstone. The hardened tissue of the ‘truck’ canopy wasn’t painted as it was already a colour that resembled the bronze green of a standard canvas.
The completed tank and the camouflage kit were brought together. With the tracks in position, I glued the track guards into place with plastic cement. This positioned the side boards onto which I superglued the bows (with a few adjustments). Over this, I placed the 4 canvas pieces - made of wrapping tissue soaked in diluted whiteglue. There were three longitudinal pieces and a transverse piece. At the rear of the first longitudinal piece, the tail flap was rolled-up for the benefit of people looking at my model, and the front flap was folded up under the roof of the “canvas cover” for the benefit of the tank crew (they could see out). The other longitudinal (but short) canvas pieces were the “roof of the cab” and the “front of the truck”. This last piece hangs vertically, and received some paint to replicate the headlights and the radiator. I left-off two pieces from the ‘cab’ of the ‘truck’ – the vertical ‘windscreen’ and the horizontal ‘bonnet/hood/engine cover’. There were reasons for these omissions - my own sanity, so the tank crew would have some air circulation (= cooling), so the crew could see to drive, and so they could quickly deploy the main gun. But to the casual observer, and you, she still looks like a truck (doesn’t it?).
The kit instructions, a profile photo, a description, and extracts of the (WWII) War Office Technical Instruction.
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