DML 1/72 Churchill Mk.IV Build Review
By John Kelley
|Date of Review||February 2012||Manufacturer||DML|
|Kit Number||7424||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Well molded and easily built; an important addition to British armor modelers||Cons||One decal option and it is for a different Mark of tank|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$21.95|
The Churchill Mk IV tank was the first of the series with a cast turret. It mounted a 6 Pounder gun and a 7.92 mm Besa machine gun in the turret and in the drivers plate. The tank served in Italy as well as North West Europe.
Dragon has released a 1/72 scale kit of the Churchill Mk IV and it is a long overdue kit. While the ESCI kit was very good for its time it was closer to a welded turret Mk III while this kit, which has the cast turret of the Mk IV, takes advantage of the latest molding techniques . The model is molded in Light Grey styrene and comes with tracks in DS material. A complete review of the model can be found on this site.
I began with the suspension system by assembling the front idler and drive sprocket. The front idlers, Part A25 and A24 were difficult to fit together and there was a gap between the parts. This was due to the inside of Part A24 being too small for the mating tube of A25 to fit inside it. I beveled the inside of Part A24 and this eliminated the problem. I also had to scrape the outside of the locator tube of Part A27 so it too would fit inside Part A28 easily.
After mounting the drive sprocket I could see it extended out too far, causing it to be out of line with the idler and the road wheels. Drilling out the inside of the assembled drive sprocket removed excess plastic and allowed the part to sit closer to the hull. Another issue was that the track skid on Part Y, the lower hull, needed to be trimmed back so the drive sprocket teeth would not catch on it.
At this point I pre-painted the suspension and lower hull to insure complete paint coverage. After they had dried I added the road wheel assembly to the hull. This assembly is trapped between the sponson halves and it needs to be cemented to the bottom of the sponson as well as the location holes. If not, the road wheels tend to "toe in" and set at an angle. Care needs to be taken when removing these parts from the sprues as the attachment points are quite thick and it is easy to damage the parts. I left off the glasis plate, Part A30, as well as the drives plate A11 and track cover parts A13 and A12 to ease assembly.
The tracks were then painted and installed on the chassis. I had to remove two and a half links so the track would be taut and not loose. Since these are DS tracks it was an easy matter to cut and glue the tracks together with regular model cement. Check the fit of your tracks before cutting them as it may not be necessary on your kit. Dragon offers advice on their sheet on how to deal with tracks that are too long or short.
Turret construction was next and the kit offers you a choice of main armament between a long 6 Pounder with the barrel end reinforcement and a shorter 6 Pounder without it. Since all the photos I have of the Mk IV in action show it with the longer barrel, I choose Part C3. The only problem is that the mantlet has a barrel opening in it that will only accept the shorter barrel. To remedy this I chucked Part C3 in my Dremel tool and turned down the end using a file until it fit in the mantlet. Alternatively you could open the mantlet hole with a file. After adding the mantlet and machine gun, I attached the turret halves together and found a gap between them that needed filling. I filled the gap and then added Mr. Surfacer to the turret in a stabbing motion to give it a cast surface and to help hide the seam. I left off Parts A9 and A10 until after all painting and finishing was complete to avoid breaking off these beautifully molded parts.
After completing the base painting, I began adding the inside track covers and the drivers plate, Part A11, to the upper hull. I encountered fit issues with the drivers plate and the track covers and I believe I should have added Part A11 to the upper hull first and then the covers, Parts A19 and A20. Some sanding of the cover ends may be necessary so make sure you test fit in this area. The fit between the upper and lower hull was very good and the location pin on the end of the upper hull aided in locating the parts and easing overall fitting.
I mixed 5 parts Tamya XF-61 Dark Green to 2 parts XF-62 Olive Drab and 2 parts XF-3 Yellow as per Mike Starmers formula for British SCC 15 Olive Drab and airbrushed this over the model. The tracks were painted XF-72 JASDF Brown. The model was then given a coat of Pledge Floor Wax with Future and a wash of Black oil paint was flowed onto the details. Dots of Yellow Ochre, White and Burnt Umber were applied to the model and a brush dipped in Turpenoid was pulled down repeatedly to give a streaking effect. Yellow Ochre, White and Van Dyke Brown were mixed together to create a brownish soil color which was added heavily to the lower hull and lighter on the upper hull and turret. The tools and machine guns were painted in Model Master Gun Metal #4681 and the wooden parts in Wood #4673.
Decals and Weathering
The decals included in the kit are for Castlerobin IV, but this name was assigned to an N.A. 75 tank on a Mk IV turret and not a 6 Pounder armed tank as is in the kit. I found a list of Churchill tank names at www.mafva.net/Churchill_List.xls which can be downloaded in a spread sheet form. It includes the tanks named Castlerobin and includes the Mark of the tanks that the name was applied to. An easy conversion to the N.A. 75 was posted on the Missing Lynx Braille Scale Forum by modeler Elliott Winthrop.
By using the later Dragon 75mm Sherman Turret kits, you can utilize the spare mantlet and gun shield from the kits. You will need to use Parts 42, 43, 44 and 46 from Sprue A and an after-market gun barrel for the 75mm gun. This will allow you to not only make the N.A. 75 but you can also use the kit decals.
Since this is a review of the Mk IV with the 6 Pounder gun, I decided not to apply the markings but rather to add Hessian Netting and heavy weathering to cover the lack of markings which are incorrect for this Mark of Churchill tank. In the Concord Publications book British Armor in Sicily and Italy by Dennis Oliver, ISBN 962-361-138-2, there is a picture of a Mk IV crossing a Churchill ARK on page 66 and this was my inspiration for the netting.
I used my wife's nylon shoe inserts as this seems to simulate the Hessian burlap closely. I cut the inserts so that it could wrap around the turret and at the same time cut an opening for the main gun and coaxial machine gun. I took the material and soaked it in a mixture of 50/50 white glue and water. I wrapped this around the turret and allowed it to dry for three hours. I then took Tamiya Khaki Drab and heavily thinned it with Tamiya Thinner. I brushed it onto the netting, and let it dry. These nets came in colors from green to brown so I felt that the Khaki Drab was a good compromise. After the netting had dried I completed assembly and finished the model by brushing Vallejo pigments, 73104 Light Siena, onto the lower hull heavily and lighter as I moved up the model. I prefer the Vallejo pigments over Mig brand because they were more finely ground and they were easier to apply than the Mig pigments.
In spite of a few fit issues, which were easily overcome, I found this to be an overall outstanding model. By far, this is the most accurate injection molded Churchill Mk IV in 1/72nd scale. By producing the Mk IV, Dragon has wisely opened the door to other variations such as the AVRE or the close support version with the 95mm gun, not to mention the N.A. 75. I highly recommend this kit to anyone interested in British armor of the Second World War. So go down to your local hobby shop and pick up this kit. You will not be disappointed.
My sincere thanks to DML for this review sample!