by: Paul H [ ]
Originally published on:
That the Mk. 1 tank was a ground-breaking concept and design cannot be questioned. It was the first operational tank in the British Army and in the world. Weighing in at over 27 tons and boasting a length of almost 8 meters, the machine struck terror into those fighting on the Western Front. The technology to create and use these “land ships” was in its infancy so their impact, when they were introduced at the Somme in 1916, was less than spectacular. The lack of reliability and the rudimentary tactics in use meant that even though 8-man monster was very technologically advanced for its time, it suffered high breakdown rates and losses were very high. Never the less, it’s advent in late 1916 unquestionably changed the world’s battle fields forever.
First let me say, Takom’s presentation of the Mk. 1 Female looks outstanding, and the box art is truly first class. I know this has little to do with the model itself or how it goes together, but it does indicate the company’s attitude toward turning out a quality product. The instructions are laid out in booklet form and include a clear parts map and the now familiar computer generated images. The instructions are broken down into 38 small steps which provide excellent visual cues for locating the parts and assemblies. Painting instructions are provided in a separate booklet and include color profiles and color information, provided by Mig Jimenez, for 3 tanks operating at the Somme in late 1916. The only problem I have with the painting guide is that it calls out only AMMO of MIG paints, so it will be up to the modeller to figure out paint matches should they want to use products from another manufacturer. While this may not be a problem for some, those who have used other brands exclusively for years will undoubtedly miss an opportunity to cross reference from a traditional multiple source paint chart.
This Mk.1 Female kit features movable wheels, weapons, steering tail assembly, clickable track links (with 10 spare links if the instructions are accurate as to track length requirements) and posable hatches. The kit parts come wrapped in clear plastic bags which group like items and duplicate sprues together and prevent much of the damage that can occur in shipping. Included in the kit are 15 plastic sprues, 1 tree of poly caps and one photo etch sheet. Molding for the plastic parts is top notch, with both raised and engraved detail, no flash, smooth surface texture and well thought out placement of ejector pin marks. On initial inspection I saw no pin marks that would be visible if the model is built as configured in the instructions. Takom has continued its habit of molding hollow sprue identification letters to ease location of the sprues, and I for one LOVE this touch. It saves me time, frustration and profanity from digging through poorly marked sprues. Yes, I know, tape and a magic marker work fine, but Takom’s method is clear even if you decide to paint items on the sprue. Sprue attachment points are thicker than most companies produce now, but I don’t mind that, as parts that separate from the sprue without clipping usually need repairs. The attachment points are also located in places that make sense. This is an issue for some kits and it sometimes drives me crazy when I go through the “how am I gonna clean up that spot!” dilemma…
The photo etched parts are cleanly produced and simple to use. The grenade shields are the major photo etched area and they are made up of styrene frames and photo etched screens. In my opinion, there is no ways to make the screens realistic without the photo etch, so plastic is not really an option. Installing the screens is simple, requires no photo etch bending and once assembled and installed, the screens will add greatly to the model’s impact.
Decals are very minimal. Two of the schemes provided require no decals at all, so the decal sheet concentrates on markings needed to recreate “HLMS We’re All In It” of A Company, Somme River, Autumn 1916.
Due to the nature of early and short production runs, limitations on truly accurate technical data from that time period and field damage and modifications evident in photos, I will not touch the question of accuracy. I recommend you compare your build to photos of the specific vehicle you intend complete and adjust as needed. I will simply say this kit is beautifully molded and presented in a thoroughly professional manner. The multi-piece tracks of the Mk. IV that caused so much consternation in modelling circles are a thing of the past, so there is no torture involved in building this landmark vehicle. Personally, I can’t wait to begin my build review and to see it on my shelf. My thanks to Takom for the opportunity to review this lovely kit!