Vulcan 1/35 Vickers Mk VIb
$56.00 SRP but you can always find it for less.
Another welcome armor addition
Further (farther?) proof that the Golden Age of Modeling is here is the
arrival of an honest to coolness large scale Vickers Mk. VI light tank.
Another of my favorites in a mainstream kit. Vulcan's new release is a
welcome change from the flood of things Tuetonic. This vehicle was the most
numerous British tank of the early War years, and a number of variants can
be envisioned showing up in the future. That is IF I have the patience to
build them. More on this later.
Mark VIb light was descended from a series of vehicles developed by the
Carden-Loyd company, which were essentially machine gun carriers. Taken over
by Vickers in 1928, the addition of a Horstmann suspension (familiar from
it's later use on Bren Carriers) resulted in a boxy 2 man tank, armed with
one Machine gun. Mark VI of the series was a big step, a 3rd crewman being
added, to operate the newfangled radio gear, and a .50 machine gun with
armor-piercing capability added to it's repertoir. The Mk. VIb differed only
in details. A meadows 6 cylinder gasoline engine propelled it, a maximum of
15mm of armor plate protected it, and if the crew could take it, it rolled
along at 35 mph, on roads. A Mk. VIc version was upgunned even more, toting
a long 15mm Besa MG. These were made in small numbers, the last of the
A large proportion of tanks sent to France and caught in the 1940 Blitzkreig
were Mk. VI lights. Here they suffered what all light tanks suffered in this
war, armor and firepower being lacking. Most of them were left behind in
France after defending the Dunkirk perimeter, and other pockets. They did
better in the North African desert, where Italian opposition was less
fierce, and mobility was an asset. Many of these took part in Operation
Compass, during which they helped cut off and surround a large slow-moving
Italian Army, causing havoc among the truck columns and infantry. But the
Mk. VI's days were numbered, the arrival of the Germans hastening it's
disappearance. Soon it was replaced by Stuarts in 1941, and used for
training future tankers, at home in England.
This kit is from Vulcan Models, with an address in Hong Kong. This outfit,
as their first kit, bought us another needed bit of Britishness, the 2
pounder anti-tank gun, which was well received on it's release. I haven't
gotten around to that one yet. Inside the brightly colored box are 7
sprues,(one clear), hull, turret, and in a separate bag, cupolas and small
bits. Another small bag holds tiny springs and wires, and a photo-etched
fret completes the deal. A decal sheet holds markings for 2 tanks, one from
the BEF, and a training machine. Hmmm-those springs seem awful small-Oh
well, let's get cracking, then!
Begins easily enough, mostly hull sections. The hull is nicely molded with
the walls on, roof, hatches and engine plates fit very well with no gaps.
The only interior is a seat, which would be visible if the driver's hatch
was opened. I'm doing mine closed up. The leaf springs, parts 27 and 28,
need some trimming to fit straight. On the subject of numbers, the molded
numbers on the sprues are VERY lightly cast, almost illegible. This can be a
problem later, with the small stuff. Tiny etched grab handles are on the
engine hatch, the first sign of overkill that will show up later. The etched
fret has ridiculously tiny individual bolt heads that I am expected to glue
on the ends of these miniscule handles (which need bending also). I'm
talking smaller than a pin head. MUCH smaller. The size of the period at the
end of this sentence. I decided quickly that was not for me. There is only so
much I will do for accuracy. I managed to bend the handles, but that's it.
NOW the fun starts. Normally the wheels/suspension are the least fun of
building tanks, this one sets whole new standards of less funness. That bag
of tiny springs I mentioned before are the coil springs of the Horstmann
suspension. Each bogie unit is made up of halves the wheels go on, these
molded parts are delicate and hard to get off the sprue and clean up. The
instructions concerning their assembly are very crowded drawings, so look at
them well. (Here's where the lightly molded sprue numbers become an issue).
The assemblies are made to be moveable, and for now one should try to do
this, to keep all the wheels on the ground evenly later. This involves very
careful use of glues, tiny drops being necessary. On the rear trucks, The
plans tell you to "heat seal" some pins, meaning melt over the ends with a
hot knife. These are small, but I managed it. Shades of old Monogram. Now
that the bogies are together and totally dry, it gets better!
The bag of tiny springs contains 32 miniature springs, and wire pins. On the
assembly diagram you will see they are numbered M3 to M6, there being 4
different sizes. The smaller ones go inside the largers (these are VERY
relative terms here). There are two sets of wire pins, shorts and longs. I
laid all these things out on some masking tape, to prevent their flying
away, and sorted them out, the differences being hard to see. Now on the end
of sprue "B" are parts B3, these being pin-head sized nuts molded to a
sprue, which you need to slice off and somehow keep from flying off (I used
the masking tape method). To Vulcan's credit they represent castle nuts, and
the slots these have are actually molded in and visible. No, they don't give
you paramecium sized cotter pins. Now we must thread the wire through one
end of the suspension link, put on small and large spring, a spacer, another
set of springs. The nuts must be slipped over the wire and cemented. Repeat
8 times. Piece of cake! And make sure the
short/ long wires go to the trucks
they belong. Quickly I found this system needed fixing. The wires were all
too short to do what I had to do. With the springs compressed, there was not
enough legnth to get the nuts on and look like my reference pictures. I had
some .015 wire and cut new legnths for the longers, and used the longs for
the shorts. The nuts were impossible to get over the wires as is (Tom the
air over a bench was Never bluer) so I drilled each out on the sprue using a
No. 73 bit before cutting them off. Even now multiple tries were need, with
lots of flying tiny nuts, (careful, there are only 4 extra) before I could
glue them using thin CA. Over the course of several evenings, I managed to
get the 4 bogie assemblies conquered. You have GOT to be kidding! There were
several times when the urge to hurl the whole thing agin the wall was
overpowering. This has got to be Over-engineering. Shirley these things
could have been injection molded. I am sure there are those out there who
will wonder what all the fuss is, and call me unskilled and such, but I
found myself sorely challenged by all this.
Whew! Deep breath, it will get easier now-let's glue the assemblies to the
hull. Each one mounts with a semi-circular pin-uh, why are they crooked? The
pins apparently are molded some degrees off from where they would let the
assemblies sit straight. At this point, this is a minor challenge. I trimmed
and shimmed until all the wheels were touching on a flat surface, finally
glueing all the moving parts. During drying I made sure all was aligned, and
looked like my reference shots. Unbelievable. A closeup of the whole shebang
is included, and I must admit it does look like the real deal. But man, was
that necessary? The link and legnth tracks are going to be glued onto all
this, so why the moveability? Uy yuy yuy.
Now, it's downhill. The track links are small and numerous on this vehicle,
much like the Bren Carrier (if not the same), and Vulcan has done a decent
job of molding them. The parts do require a bit of cleanup after removal
from the sprues, but that's the game. The parts that would represent
individual links on bigger tanks are actually 3 links here, and they even
have a delicate curve molded in to help wrap around sprockets and wheels.
Enough links are here to give you a nice realistic sag, and the whole thing
looks quite dandy when finally all is set.
Now the fenders can be put on and all the stuff that sits on them. A choice
of etched brackets and handles are given, at this point I went with the
simple plastic ones. I did bend some tool holddowns but chose the plastic
headlamp assemblies too, they look just fine to me. The turret is
straightforward, with nicely molded cupolas, smoke dischargers, and weapons.
Under the guns is a spent cartridge tray, to which attaches a hinged gizmo,
that might be a support for the gun mount. You'll have to cut this and
reposition it if you want your guns pointed anywhere but up. I glued my
hatches shut with white glue, in case Vulcan releases a crew for this later,
like they did with their 2-pounder kit. I can open them and crew it. Tiny
Photo etch is used on the searchlight and turret lineup gauge, I managed to
get these. I'm pretty sure the antenna mount is simplified but my refs are
sparse on this and I let it alone. Holy crap, is this thing ready for paint?
Yay let's do it.
I thought this part would be easy, look up the colors and spray, or match up
the boxart colors to my Modelmaster stuff. Right. It seems early war
Brittank colors are not a sure thing, with references to Khaki Green and
Dark Green but no cut and dry info as to what these looked like, never mind
which paints to use. From what I could find, and info from my web pals, I
settled on Model Master RAF Dark green and a mix of Humbrol 155 OD, and 10
dark Brown, for the Khaki Green. I figured on spraying the Khaki green first
and Brushing on the Dark green, but ended up doing the Dark Green foist and
(painstakingly) masking the pattern for the KG. Turned out I don't like the
KG as a main color, but too late now. Gonna dust 'er up anyway. I grabbed my
Vallejo paint bottles and a brush, and did the tires dark grey and black and
the tracks a mix of dark grey and steel.
Now the little varmint was taken out and given a glosscoat, using Testor's
Metallizer Sealer and crossed my fingers for the decaling stage. I decided
on the 3rd Royal Tank Regiment machine from the French campaign. The other
option would have been cool too, having a white stripe around the turret
base that would be a good looking option. The decals looked a little thick
and uneven on the sheet, but turned out they worked just fine, doing all the
things good decals do, a little Solvaset helping them along. At this point I
attached a few small parts I had delayed putting on, fire extinguisher,
tools, mirrors, and even the unusually kit-supplied antenna. I glosscoated
it again to seal the decals in, and get ready for weathering.
This was done using Tamiya's weathering sticks, pen-type applicators that
squeeze out Earth toned water based glop, that I like a lot for this
purpose. I squeeze some out on a piece of tinfoil, and mix with water till I
get the consistency I want, anything from thick mud to a rain-streak wash.
Applied with a brush, I like the final effect. I laid on heavy Mud and Light
Earth on the suspension area and washed the tracks with watery Light Earth.
Small amounts of thick stuff I left on my beloved spring assemblies,
undersides, and sprockets. On top a light wash using Sand simulated rain
steaks, and finally the uppers were drybrushed lightly with light green
enamel, to pop out those rivets. A final flatcoat bought this project to a
temporary end. I still may add the little wires for the smoke dischargers
and improve the antenna mount, when I can get more info on it.
Well if you read this you will realize this is a very Schizophrenic kit. The
main part of the build is just fine with good fits . The suspension area is
a whole different ballgame, giving the builder fits. At any rate at the end,
I am glad I persevered, because a very nice representation of the Vickers
Mk. VI has resulted, a weird looking little Hoptoad with lumps and bits
sticking out all over it. It is a splendid addition to my growing light tank
museum. Only problem is will I do another? I would really like the desert
version that is bound to show up, but do I have the patience?
Recommended to advanced armor builders.
Blitzkreig Armor Camoflage and Markings 1939-40 Steven
Zaloga Squadron/Signal 1980
AFV 5 Light Tanks Mk.1-VI N.W. Duncan Profile Pub. Prehistoric
courtesy of Me.
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