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Cromwell Kit

Tamiya 1/35 Cromwell Mk. IV Kit First Look

By Ray Mehlberger

Date of Review April 2008 Manufacturer Tamiya
Subject Cromwell Mk. IV Scale 1/35
Kit Number 35221 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Neat British WWII tank subject; glueable vinyl tracks Cons No interior detail
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $39.00

First Look

Cromwell Kit
Cromwell Kit
Cromwell Kit
Cromwell Kit
Cromwell Kit
Cromwell Kit
Cromwell Kit

The result was that new tanks were rushed into production without proper testing and were to prove unreliable in combat. As no new tank engines had been developed, most of these tanks were powered by the Nuffield Liberty, an American engine designed in WWI to give an output of 200 bhp. Nuffield increased the output to 350-410 bhp and this was used to power the A13, A15 Crusader and A24 Cavalier. The engine proved adequate in the A13 and Crusader due to their modest weight, but in the Cavalier it was a disaster. The tank was unfit for combat. In 1941, Rolls Royce produced a de-rated version of their Merlin aero engine, used in the Spitfire, Hurricane and Lancaster aircrafts, for tank use. Named the Meteor, this engine developed 600 bhp, more than enough for current needs.

The successor to the Cavalier, the A27 Cromwell, was designed to use this new engine and a pilot model was ready early in 1942. Unfortunately, Rolls Royce was fully committed to producing the Merlin and so was unable to manufacture the Meteor in any quantity. The production of the Meteor was passed to the Rover Car Company, which had also been tooling up to produce the Merlin. Setting up this new production line was to take almost a year.

While the facilities for producing the Meteor engine were being set up, it was decided to continue production of the A27, using the Liberty engine as a temporary measure. This version was designated A27L Centaur, and the Meteor powered tank the A27M Cromwell. The A27L/M was built with five different hull types, known as “A”, “B”, “C”, “D” and “F” (“E” was an internal transmission modification). These types related to the hull crew hatches and to the engine deck doors layout. Early type hulls were used in pre-production tanks, but the first type to be mass-produced was the “C” type, introduced on the A27L Centaur.

The “D” type, with revised engine access doors was introduced in 1943, as was the “F”, which eliminated  the hull top drivers hatch, replacing it with a side-opening hatch similar to that provided for the hull gunner. The Cromwell was a fast and reliable tank capable of speeds of over 65 km/h on good surfaces. It compared favorably with tanks of similar weight, such as the Sherman and the Pz.Kpfw. IV. Most were armed with the 75mm Q.F. Mk. V/VA, which was based on the 6 Pdr., but chambered to the American ammunition.

This was a good dual-purpose gun, well able to destroy enemy anti-tank guns at long-range, or penetrate the frontal armour of the Pz.Kpw. IV at normal battle ranges. However, it was almost useless against German heavy tanks. In 1944, some tanks received 25mm  plates welded to the frontal armour, increasing the thickness to 101mm maximum. Tanks with the 75mm gun became the Mk. VII, and those with the 95mm howitzer the Mk. VIII. The Cromwell, along with a few Centaur special purpose tanks, first saw action during the Normandy Campaign.

Here, it was at a dissadvantage as it could not use it’s superior speed and agility, but this changed after fighting moved into open country. Cromwell tanks made some spectacular advances in their persuit of the Germans across northern France, Belgium and Holland. The Cromwell served again in Korea and was finally retired in the late 1950’s. It is interesting to note that the Leopard, Germany’s first post-war tank, was much closer in concept to the Cromwell than it was to the Tiger.

This kit, copyright in 1997, comes in a tray and lid type box. The boxart is in Tamiya’s signature style of a color painting against a chalk white background. This boxart shows a Cromwell in overall khaki and the markings for C Squadron, 5th Royal Tank Regiment, 22nd Armoured Brigade, 7th Armoured Division. A commander figure is standing in the upper turret hatch, wearing earphones and a beret. (this marking is on the decal sheet).

A side panel of the box shows a color side profile of a Cromwell that has been overpainted with winter white-wash. No marks are shown on this illustration. Next to it, is a paragraph in Japanese and a color illustration of the commander figure.

The other side panel has a 3-view of a Cromwell that is also in overall khaki in the markings for B Squadron, 2nd Battalion, Welsh Guards, Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment of the Guards Armoured Division. (this marking also on the decal sheet). The box lid also says that the kit is intended for modelers 10 years old and older. Printed inside the bottom tray of the box are numerous black and white illustrations of hobby tools, glue and paint bottles and illustrations from Tamiya armor reference publications.

Inside the box are 5 olive drab parts trees and a clear parts tree in 3 stapled shut cello bags. A small sealed cello bag holds a length of white nylon string, a tree of clear parts, a piece of black nylon screen and a tree of black vinyl poly-caps. There is another sealed cello bag which holds the black vinyl rubber-band type tracks. The single hull bottom piece is loose and not in a cello.

The instruction sheet, decal and a single sheet of “important information concerning this kit” in 14 languages, including English and a single sheet with five coloring and marking schemes for the Cromwell on it completes the kit’s contents.

The instructions consist of a single sheet that accordion fold out into 10 pages in 6 ¾” x 10 ¼” format.

Page 1 of the instructions begins with a black and white photo of the Cromwell made up in the markings of the boxart illustration. This is followed by the history of the Cromwell in Japanese, which is accompanied by a black and white illustration of a Centaur Mk. IV.

Page 2 continues the Cromwell’s history in English, German and French. With another black and white illustration of a Crusader III.

Page 3 begins with a narration about the 7th Armoured Divisions activities on D-Day, in the same 4 languages as above. This is followed by an order of battle chart for the Division in July 1944.

Page 4 begins with “read before assembly” instructions, some pictures of glue and tools, a Tamiya paint list – suggested to use to decorate the model and “Cautions”. This is followed, at the bottom of the page, by the first 2 assembly steps.

I had completed step number 1 only.

Pages 5 through the top of page 10 give a total of 19 assembly steps.

The bottom of page 10 has a after market service card, to mail to Tamiya with any problems that need solving concerning the kit.

A single loose sheet has 5 different marking schemes illustrated on it. Tamiya wants modelers to mix 3 different colors to make the overall color for these schemes. They call out mixing one part flat-black (Tamiya XF-1) to four parts deep-green (Tamiya XF-26) to four parts flat earth (Tamiya XF-52). I really think that Xtracolor X1, RAF dark green would be a good substitute, instead of mixing this. It has the advantage of already being gloss for decaling without coating the model with Future.

  • Scheme 1: is a Cromwell with C Sqdn., 5th Royal Tank Regt., 22nd Armoured Brg., 7th Armoured Div. (the boxart)
  • Scheme 2: is a Cromwell with B Sqdn., 2nd Bat., Welsh Guards Armoured Recon. Regt. of  the Guard’s Armoured Div. (from box side-panel)
  • Scheme 3: is a Cromwell that is a Armoured Obeservation Post tank, 5th Royal House Artillery, 7th Armoured Div
  • Scheme 4: is a Cromwell of Div. HQ Sqdn. 1st Polish Armoured Div
  • Scheme 5: is a Cromwell that is a Div. HQ tank of the 11th Armoured Div

There are 2 identical letter A parts trees in the kit. These hold: the road wheels, idler wheels, drive sprockets, tow rings, tow cable ends, suspension arms, fender storage bins etc. (50 parts per tree)

There are location slots in the holes where the suspension arms go, and pins on the arms to keep them at the proper height for going over flat terrain. However, by cutting off the pins the arms can be moved to pose the model going over bumpy ground.

You have to make a decision as to whether you want the external tension system (for the Cromwell) or the internal one (for the Centaur). If you choose to build the Cromwell, add parts C26 & C27.and leave off parts A16. If you choose to do the Centaur add A16 in step no. 6 and leave off C26 & C27 here.

Another nice touch is that the commander’s periscope separate covers, that can be posed open or shut.

Letter B tree holds: the hull top, lower bow plate, hatch doors, the commander figure (divided into separate body, right arm and head) etc. (18 parts)

Letter C tree holds: the rear hull plate, outer hull side plates, fender parts, hatch doors, driver’s front plate etc. (28 parts)

Letter D tree holds: the turret parts, turret armor plates, tools, main gun barrel, coaxial machine-gun parts, gun mantle and a hedge-row cutter blade etc. (46 parts)

Parts have really nice texturing and weld seams.

Lettering now jumps to letter G. This is the clear parts and there are 13 parts on this tree. Parts are included for a searchlight lens, 6 glass bottles, 6 goggles and a kerosene lantern.

The final plastic part is the single hull bottom tub.

The black vinyl poly-caps, white nylon string, the piece of black nylon screen and the decal sheet complete the kits contents. The string is to make tow cables from. The poly-caps hold the running gear on the model and the screen is for engine air-intake grills. However, Tamiya sells a set of steel PE for the intake grills (kit no. 35222). I have purchased this set too.

The poly-caps are trapped into the centers of the road wheels and drive sprockets. This allows a press fitting onto the axles, so these can be left off while painting the hull of the tank and added later. Obviously, this means adding the vynil tracks last too. The tracks have good detail for the rubber-band type.

The vinyl tracks are the glueable type and don’t need to be heat-welded into a continuous loop then. Although hatches can be posed open, there are no interior parts in the kit.