Airfix 1/76 Cromwell Mk IV Build Review
By John Kelley
|Date of Review||April 2012||Manufacturer||Airfix|
|Subject||Cromwell Mk IV||Scale||1/76|
|Kit Number||2338||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Overall fit and detail are very good. The tracks are molded in one piece and conform to the suspension. 2 decal options, wading gear and a hedge row cutter. very reasonable price||Cons||Tracks have the cleats and guide teeth but no other detail|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$7.95|
The Cromwell Mk IV Tank entered service in 1944 and was the last of the Cruiser tanks to be built during the war. Starting life as the Caviler it then developed into the Centaur. Further improvements finally lead to the Cromwell Mk IV, which is the subject of the Airfix kit. Its main armament consisted of a 75mm gun and two 7.92mm BESA machine guns. While not as heavily armored as its German counterparts, the Cromwell made up for it in speed and a low profile. The Cromwell had numerous upgrades and models. Some of these are a little confusing. The best book I have on the Cromwell is the Osprey Publication "Cromwell Cruiser Tank 1942-1950" by David Fletcher and Richard C Harley with illustrations by Peter Sarson. The ISBN is 1-84176-814-6.
Airfix has produced armor models since the 1960s. Some of their kits are very good while others have been a mixture of different models on the same vehicle. Not so with their recent release of the Cromwell Mk IV tank. This is a new mold in 1/76 scale and it is serious competition to the Revell of Germany kit. One of the most interesting features of the model is the one piece molded plastic track. The track is molded to fit the suspension, so it is not necessary to glue track ends together and induce sag or piece link and length track on to the suspension. This is something I have not seen done in other kits and I hope other manufacturers will consider following Airfix's lead.
The kit comes with 2 decal options as well as a hedge row device and wading gear. While I have quite a few photos of the tank with wading gear, I have only seen one picture of a Cromwell with the hedge row device added and I believe this was a test vehicle. To my knowledge the British never used the hedge row device and photos of Taureg II, one of the decal options, show it without the device. A more complete review of the kit can be found on this site.
I started by building the lower hull as per the instructions. The hull is broken down into two inside plates with a bottom plate along with outer sides like the original tank. I glued on the outer sides after assembling the inner hull and attached the front and rear plates as well. While painting the kit, I found it was difficult to completely coat the open areas where the road wheel arms are between the plates with my airbrush. Because of this, I recommend painting the area where the axles are on the inner hull before adding the outer plate to insure complete paint coverage. I did add some filler to the front and rear plates to eliminate some minor gaps.
Before adding the suspension, I pre-painted the lower hull, track, road wheels, Idler and drive sprockets first. The track has a seam down the middle of it which was easily removed with a triangle file. While It is a little tedious to remove the seam, it makes for a much better looking track. I followed the Airfix instructions when assembling the running gear as this is the best method for assembling them. I added the inner road wheels, Idler and drive sprocket first, then the track, and finally the outer set of wheels. The track locks in nicely on the drive sprocket but carefully cleaning the sprocket of sprue will help greatly.
With the lower hull finished, I commenced work on the upper hull by adding the various detail parts. The only real concern I have with the kit is the large sprue gates that are attached to the parts. I used a sprue cutter to remove Part 25B, the engine left side plate, and it broke in half. After this, I carefully removed the detail parts with a knife only.
The only fit issue I found in assembling the upper hull is that the machine gunners side door was a little long and needed to be sanded on the hinge side. I painted the air intake black and added the hull wading stack after gluing Parts 8A and 12A together. The stack needed a little putty along the edges to hide the seam. There are two raised ejector pin marks at the top of the stack that need to be removed. I didn't remove them and after I painted the model, they were visible when I looked down into the stack. The light guards, Parts 31A, are a little thick due to the injection molding process and would look much better if replaced with brass wire.
The turret was next and this assembled with no problems. The armored side plates of the turret fit together with no unsightly gaps and the locking keys at the bottom of them ensured proper alignment. The muzzle on the end of the main gun is divided in half and Part 4B was added to the barrel with a little sanding to eliminate the seam. I scraped off the barrel seam with my knife blade and finished up with a fine grit sanding stick to smooth out the barrel. Since I elected to use the wading gear I added the tower, Part 27A, to the loaders hatch at this time. I left off the antenna and search light until the model was finished to prevent breaking off these parts.
Markings and Finishing
The model was painted with the Mike Starmer mix of 5 parts Tamiya XF-61 Dark Green, 2 parts XF-62 Olive Drab and 2 parts XF-3 Yellow to replicate SCC 15 Olive Drab. The tires were painted Model Master #4767 Aircraft Interior Black, and the tools were painted #4673 Wood and #4681 Gun Metal. The tracks were painted XF-72 Brown (J.A.S.D.F.) A coat of Pledge Floor Wax with Future was sprayed onto the model and the decals were applied.
These went on with no problems, but the star over the turret vent needed Solvaset so it would conform over all the detail. During this process I put the decal on upside down so when applying the star to your model, make sure you have the top of the star pointing towards the front of the turret and not the back. A wash of Black oil paint was applied to accent the details and the excess was carefully removed with a make up applicator dipped in Turpenoid.
The kit does not include the water proof covers and since all the photos I have of this tank with the wading gear in place have them on, I decided to add them. I used facial tissue and pulled apart the layers first. Then I cut the paper to the size of the mantlet opening and applied a 50/50 mixture of white glue and water to the paper. I added the paper to the end of the muzzle, the hull machine gun, and the vents on the hull and turret top. I painted the canvas 3 parts XF-55 Deck Tan and 1 part XF-78 Wooden Deck Tan. After this had dried, I washed the covers in XF-10 Flat Brown and dry brushed them in Deck Tan. I added a dusting of Mig Light Dust to the suspension to show road dust that the tank would have accumulated on the way to the embarkation point.
Airfix is to be commended for producing this fine replica of the Cromwell Mk IV tank. The fit was outstanding and the detail was well done. The plastic tracks are molded to the suspensions shape and are a unique solution to the problems of tracks in small scale kits. The track has the guide teeth and the cleats molded on, but there is no other detail on the face or the inside of the tracks. But despite these omissions, they look good on the model and are a better alternative to vinyl tracks and much easier to apply than link and length track.
The tools are molded on and do not look bad at all, but the fire extinguishers are molded on the fenders and are only half round. The turret lifting hooks are also molded on and look a little flat. Replacing them would add greatly to the appearance of the model as well as adding a tow rope which is not included. In spite of these issues, Airfix has produced a very good model that is just plain fun to build.
The price is right, too. In a time when most 1/72 kits are averaging $15.00 to $22.00 USD, Airfix has produced a model with 2 decal options, wading gear and a hedge row cutter for only $7.95 USD. I plan to buy a couple myself for conversions to a 95mm armed tank and an A.R.V. So what are you waiting for; go down to your local hobby shop and buy one. You will be quite happy with this kit.
My sincere thanks to Airfix USA for this review sample!