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Hobbies/Model Building

ALL THIS & WORLD WAR TWO- Part 2

BUILDING THE CROMWELL TANK

The Cromwell tank was very active in Northwestern Europe from D-Day to the end of the war in 1945. Whatever weaknesses it had against German armour like the Tiger, Panther and King Tiger, the Cromwell acquitted itself well as a cruiser tank, using a relatively low profile, good speed and a gun that could match most of what the enemy could throw at it- save for the vehicles mentioned above and the dreaded 88mm field gun.

And… it could fly!

This is a famous image from the war of a Cromwell taking off from a ramp during trials. It’s posted all over the internet, but if someone could give me the source information, I would like to give it a proper citation. The aerodynamic properties of the Cromwell were demonstrated in the Netherlands in 1944 when three of these machines jumped a Dutch canal to escape enemy fire. The canal was later measured to be over 20 feet wide. For a full account, read TROOP LEADER: A Tank Commander’s Story, by Bill Bellamy.

The kit I built was Tamiya’s 1/35 scale Cromwell, a decent model with easy to follow instructions and a great fit in the parts. I had never built a tank before and was nervous, considering the experience I had with the much smaller Austin K2Y ambulance covered in the last article. (Click here for link.) I needn’t have worried. Considering the build was happening during a stressful period in my life involving illness in the family, I found working on the Cromwell to be relaxing.

I built it in two parts- the hull base with the wheels and tracks and the top of the hull with the turret and assorted bits for engine exhaust, towing and such added on. The two halves were sprayed with a base coat of the colour the British were using on their armour at this stage in the war and then given a deliberately sloppy coat of white on top to simulate the winter camouflage that was often hastily applied in the field using a water based lime wash that wore off as the winter ground on. As the wash only went where brushes or mops could be used to slap it on, the finish was inconsistent at best. I then weathered the two halves before joining them, gunking them up with mud, simulated wetness from watery roads, grime and such to show this machine had seen its share of action.

Decals were really hard to apply in places and the fixative didn’t fix very well. Also, there was a problem with the heavy rivets in the turret making it difficult for some of the markings to sit properly on the surface. Decal solvents were of mixed success, so let’s say the whitewash I used served more than one purpose in a couple of places. I learned it was generally accepted to try and paint around unit markings for identification purposes, but best laid plans, etc. sometimes led to the big white star atop the turret being obliterated under a layer of whitewash.

I only hope I will get better with decals as time passes. Tamiya ones in particular do have some annoying habits about them, although the Airfix decals for the Katy also threw a few curves at me.

So, here is my Cromwell. It has made me a fan of armour, as witnessed by the vast collection that has found its way into my studio in the last couple of years.

One down. Many more to go…

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