Hasegawa 1/72 Cruasder III/Sunshade
KIT #: MT-26
PRICE: AUD$ 9.00
DECALS: Two options
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.   

 The disguise was issued as a complete kit, which consisted of four tall frames (or bows) and four shorter ones, a standard truck canvas tarpaulin (or tarp) cover, another cover, two long side boards and two short side boards.  The side boards were mounted onto the top of the tank’s track guards and connected to each other by the bows that fitted into sockets on the inside of the boards.  The longer side boards and the four taller bows were placed over the rear of the hull and covered with the truck canvas cover to duplicate the covered tray of a truck.  The shorter side boards and the shorter bows covered the forward section of the tank and were covered in a similar manner to replicate the step of the truck’s cabin and bonnet/hood/nose.  Dark patches replicated the glass areas of a truck.  The tank was not intended to move or fight while fitted with the sun-shade kit, because the kit would not allow the crew could not see forward to safely drive the tank, and it limited the traversing of the turret.  However, tank crews quickly learnt that by leaving-off two pieces of canvas (the truck’s ‘windscreen’ and ‘bonnet/hood’) and one bow, they could see to drive, and shoot the cannon.   


  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 disguise.

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.     

 I fabricated the bows from 1mm brass rod because, while it is too large in scale (it equates to 3”/75mm pipe – the real bows were only 2”/50mm in diameter), it was strong and besides, I had some in my modelling tools kit.  To get the bows the exact width of the model tank and identical to each other, I made a jig by hammering nails into a piece of scrap board.  All were bent around the jig at the same time.  They would be assembled onto the completed tank later.


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?).


 This model is not available as a kit because it would hardly be a ‘hot’ seller, so, I reckon that my model’d be pretty unique in modelling circles.  I doubt if the disguise kit could be shed from the tank quickly (while still moving?) and without the need for someone to get out of the tank (wholly or partially).  I would want that as a fundamental requirement for tactical convenience.  For example, the truck bows could have pivoted at their bases to swing rearward (and take the canvas) to expose the turret, the front bows swing forward to clear the cannon, all by pulling a single quick-release knot or other mechanism.  It was very convenient that the disguise kit rested on the top of the tank hull, both for me as a modeller, and no doubt for the soldiers who had to assemble it on the tank.  

 I had a ball building this model because the tank went together easily, and because the sunshade was relatively easy to build.  It is not a show stopper; in fact, I suspect that it will hardly rate a mention, as it is not a conventional model, but that doesn’t faze me.

 PS:  this model was awarded a second in AFVs, Small-scale, Modified at the 2011 Model Expo in Melbourne.  That REALLY surprised me.

 PSS:  Further research revealed that other sunshades existed that disguised other tanks (eg, Shermans) as different style of truck – one with a flat front.  And a resin kit of it is available. 


The kit instructions, a profile photo, a description, and extracts of the (WWII) War Office Technical Instruction.

George Oh

July 2013

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

Back to the Main Page

Back to the Review Index Page