Tamiya 1/48th Matilda Mk.III/IV
KIT #: 32572
PRICE: $37.00 SRP
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Jonathan Prestidge


From the kit instructions: “During WWII, the British Army fielded slow, heavily armored tanks developed to support infantry advances. The Matilda built by Vulcan Foundry was the second such infantry tank. Made from thick cast metal and rolled steel components, it was formidably protected with 78mm frontal armor and side armor that covered the suspension. It had a crew of four, was armed with a 2-pdr. (40mm) main gun, had a “Japanese” bogie type suspension for good low-speed performance, and two AEC diesel engines that gave it a top speed of 24 km/h (15 mph). The Mk.II, which featured an air-cooled coaxial machine gun, followed the initial Mk.I variant. 95hp Leyland diesel engines powered the Mk.III introduced in 1940, and the Mk. IV featured further improved engines.

Matildas first saw major combat in May 1940 near the French town of Arras, where shells from the German tanks and anti-tank guns simply bounced off their thick armor as they disrupted the German advance. The Matilda was also sent to North Africa, where it swept aside Italian opponents and was respectfully called ‘Queen of the Desert’ by German forces. During Operation Battleaxe to lift the siege of Tobruk in June of 1941, German forces famously used their 88mm AA guns in the anti-tank role since they were the only effective counter against Matildas. The Matilda was the British Army’s main tank in North Africa until mid-1942. Production continued until August 1943, with many of the 2,890 examples produced given to countries such as Russia, where they served until the end of the war.”


Wow, what a gem! Tamiya’s 1/48th Matilda is kit No. 72 in their Military Miniatures series. The instructions are well printed and easy to follow. The engineering of the Tamiya Matilda is superb, resulting in beautiful detail without difficult construction or an excessive parts count. For example, the twenty-wheeled bogie assemblies consist of just 2 nicely molded pieces per side! The kit is crisply molded in tan plastic. There is almost no flash on the kit parts. One commander figure is included. The molding of the figure is mediocre – not up to the excellent standard of the rest of the kit parts. The kit decals are thin, in register, and provide markings for three tanks - two in the North African Caunter three-color scheme and one two-tone brown tank based in England. The only inaccuracy that was readily apparent was the color callouts for the Caunter three-color scheme (more on this later).


This was my first tank build. I started by carefully reviewing the kit instructions, keeping in mind the Caunter paint scheme that I wanted to incorporate. I decided to follow the kit instructions to the letter up thru step 8, assembling the chassis & tracks followed by the upper hull. I skipped step 9 (attaching the upper hull to the chassis) to more easily facilitate painting and weathering. Steps 10 thru 14 were then completed. In step 12 there were two tow cables and a reference for the length (105mm) which I missed at first. In step 14 I only tacked the side armor in place with a small amount of glue since it needed to be removed and re-attached after the upper hull was glued to the chassis. The turret was then assembled per the instructions. I only deviated from the instructions by leaving off the cupola hatch doors, tow cables and canvas sheet until final assembly. The superb fit of the parts, minimal cleanup and excellent engineering really made for a rewarding and painless build. After about six hours of building, I had the three main components (chassis, upper hull and turret) ready for paint.


I chose marking selection “B”, a Matilda with the 32nd Army Tank Brigade in Libya, 1941. As I mentioned earlier in this review, the color call outs in the instructions are incorrect. The correct colors for the Caunter three-color scheme are: Light Stone, Silver Gray and Slate. After an hour or so of researching the correct olors I came up with some close equivalents. Being an aircraft modeler, I used the Poly Scale acrylic paints I had on hand. For the Light Stone, I used Deck Tan. For the Silver Gray I used British interior Green (RLM 02 is also very close). For the Slate, I used RLM73 Green.

 First, everything was air-brushed Deck Tan thinned with Future. Thinning with Future helped the paints spray better and the satin finish was better suited to washes/filters. Then came the masking, lots of masking! I used Tamiya tape and thinly rolled kneadable eraser to mask straight lines over the detailed surfaces. I used the excellent, kit-supplied marking guide as my primary reference. After the Deck Tan came the British Interior Green, then more masking and finally, the RLM73. The tracks were brush-painted dark gray next. I used a tooth pick to pull the tracks away from the idlers while I painted them.

 Next came the fun part – weathering! I had been envious of armor modelers for some time looking at their dirty, muddy, stained and faded machines. I started the process by applying a thin, black, soapy water filter/wash. I went section by section, using a Q-tip to remove some of the wash and to streak it unevenly. I then dry-brushed some of the original colors to accent detail and further vary tone. The tracks, chassis and side armor were then strategically dry brushed with Italian Hazel Tan to represent the dusty desert conditions in which these tanks operated. Good pictures of actual Matilda’s proved invaluable during the weathering process.


 The upper hull and side armor were glued to the chassis and the turret added prior to decaling. I brush painted several coats of Future in the areas where decals were to be applied. After letting the Future dry for several hours, I started to apply the kit decals. They were very thin and very sticky. Several broke apart, cracking as I tried to move them into position. I’m not sure what happened. Maybe I used water that was too hot. Maybe the Future wasn’t dry (most likely). I struggled through however, and fortunately only lost the “Defiance” decal on the port side of the hull.

 I added the tow cables, hatch covers, commander figure, and canvas sheets at this time. I then air-brushed Poly Scale Flat Clear mixed with a few drops of Hazel Tan over the entire tank. Finally, I used pastels to further dirty the Matilda. Final detailing was then completed.


 Tamiya has hit a home run with this kit. From start to finish it took me less than 24 hours over the course of 4 days! The kit almost fell together and it really looks outstanding once completed. With smart engineering, terrific fit, beautiful molding and nice decals, this kit has it all. I’m pretty sure that the trouble I had with the decals was self-induced. The complex paint scheme was a challenge but it looks good when finished. This was a GREAT first armor kit! In fact, I liked the building Matilda so much that I’m about half-way through another Tamiya 1/48th armor kit as I write this review – highly recommended!   

 Jonathan Prestidge

February 2014

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