Monday, December 31, 2012

Matilda in High Heels

Warlord Games introduced a model of the British Infantry Tank A12 Matilda II earlier in 2012. Their choice of the British Expeditionary Force variant in preference to the more traditional Queen of the Desert allows the building of BEF armies (hopefully supported in the March 2013 release of the Bolt Action supplement for British and Commonwealth forces).

So, having ordered one, what does it look like?

The first thing you notice is the exposed bogies, they look really odd (hence the High Heels in the title). Anyone used to the Airfix or Tamiya versions would be mildly disturbed and be wondering why it looks so odd. This would be because the BEF in their wisdom decided that the Matilda as built might have ground clearance problems. So they jacked the suspension (Pimp My Tank?). This gave better ground clearance but left the bogies more exposed and put the suspension under a lot of strain.

For a photograph see page 11 of New Vanguard 8: Matilda Tank, there is a colour plate of page 26 (plate B1). Another concern was the trench crossing ability (trenches still being foremost in the mind at that point). To improve trench crossing, a bustle was added at the back over the exhaust silencer (plate B1 again).
The other feature was the exhaust layout. Early A12 Matildas had a lower exhaust path on the right hand side rather than the later models whose exhausts are on the top.
The other feature is the Coaxial machine gun, a water cooled Vickers rather than the air cooled Besa.
There were a few minor problems with the build, the tracks had some slight misalignment where the mould came together, the resin needing to be filed down to flatten the tread (you can see the results below), there is a promient seam under the nose which I have still failed to correct and the tread unit to body join needed filling (the most difficult part being the sides where there is a prominent row of rivets adjacent to the join, meaning I could not file down the join without having to add the rivets again).
The turret looks a bit small but reference to pictures and drawings shows it matches up with other hull features. The layout on the top of the turret is different to examples in the New Vanguard book and  the Osprey Modelling: Modelling the Matilda Infantry Tank, but then different modellers in the book have different interpretaions. I did relocate the headlights and added towing shackles on the front.

Overall it looks like a Matilda, and even for someone as hamfisted as me it goes together pretty well. I will probably get another one of the BEF ones, and hope they have the later (desert) version ready for when the Perry Miniatures Eighth Army figures are released.

The Tank Commander above is a Crooked Dice Minion with pistol, Fighting Man head and the pistol from The Man From 3000. The plan is to build a full Tank Crew sourced from Crooked Dice Minions for skirmish actions inspired by Colin Forbes' Tramp In Armour novel about a BEF Matilda Tank caught behind enemy lines. The book does not contain any usable scenarios, a one sided fight with a truck is about the only time the tank fires its main gun, so the scenarios will be created from whole cloth.
Finally, two pictures of the Matilda supporting a BEF section (more Warlord games figures) advancing through a ruined hamlet (Warlord Games plastic buildings)..

I do have a 1/48th scale Tamiya model of a Matilda, it will be interesting to compare them. Of course, when I build it is another matter...