British Tank Churchill Mk.VII - Crocodile

Published: June 7th, 2018     
Product Image
Cover
Reviewed by: 
Andrew Birkbeck, IPMS# 27087
Scale: 1:48
Company: Tamiya USA
Price: $36.00
Product / Stock #: 32594

Background

The British Churchill tank was one of the most important tank designs introduced by the British after the start of the Second World War. Following the collapse of the French armies at the hands of the invading Germans utilizing Blitzkrieg tactics, British forces lost most of their front line military equipment in France in May 1940. The British reevaluated their previous views on the purposes and uses of tanks following these losses, and came up with more modern designs, the Churchill tank being a prime example. It was heavily armored, and with the introduction in 1943 of the Mk.VII, better armed, sporting as it did a 75mm main gun capable of firing both high explosive and armor piercing rounds. In preparation for the D-Day Invasion in June 1944, various "specialized" tanks were dreamed up, including a flame throwing version of the Churchill, named the Crocodile. This new Tamiya kit provides parts for modeling either a standalone gun armed Mk.VII tank, or the specialized flame throwing Crocodile with trailer.

What's in the Tamiya Box

  • 5 sprues of injection molded green plastic parts
  • 1 bag of black vinyl polly caps
  • 1 metal ingot
  • 1 small sheet of water slide decals with 2 marking options
  • 1 booklet, with 8 pages of black and white assembly instructions covering 20 assembly steps plus a separate double-sided sheet incorporating a markings and painting guide and a short history

Construction

Anyone who has built a Tamiya kit in the past two decades or more will be familiar with what comes in the box of this kit: beautifully molded flash free plastic parts, very well detailed, and with no sink marks to be seen. There are however occasional ejection pin marks, most of which are well hidden when construction is completed. There are no photo etched parts whatsoever, so construction of the model can be accomplished without the use of super glue. Tamiya provides the modeler with a near fool proof set of excellent instructions, and if they are followed to the letter, and studied carefully before beginning construction, a drama free modeling project should ensue!

Step 1: Construction starts as most tank models do, with construction of the lower hull. This Churchill kit hull consists of a lower hull plate, and two side hull parts. The latter include all the suspension spring detail as well as the inside road wheels molded integrally. Tamiya continue to utilize a metal weight which the modeler glues into the interior of the hull, but this can be ignored if you wish.

Step 2 involves the installation of the front hull glacis plate and the vertical front hull plate, which houses either a machinegun or the flame thrower unit for the Crocodile version. So, the modeler needs to decide which version of the Churchill tank they are building from this Step moving forward.

Step 3: completion of the lower hull, with the addition of the outside roadwheels, which are in two simple but well detailed parts, one per hull side. Another part for the Crocodile version is also installed on the underside of the hull.

Step 4 sees the hull rear plate installed, which differs between the gun tank version and the flame thrower version, so make sure you get the correct part installed.

Step 5 involves the assembly of the two-part idler wheels, and it is important to mount them the correct way around, so as to have the tracks line up correctly in the next section.

Step 6: track installation. Tamiya provides individual links as well as longer lengths of track, and it is critical that one follow the suggested order of installation. Do so, and they should be a breeze to install. The tracks have injection pin marks, but these won't be visible on the completed model. Interestingly, Tamiya has chosen not to have a full set of tracks for this kit. There is basically no top run of tracks, because the kit fenders and side plates hide this area. Later Mark Churchills can be seen minus parts of the fenders, thus exposing the upper run of the tracks. So, any modeler wishing to pose their Churchill this way will need to figure out where to find additional track links. For most modelers, who will build the fenders as they come in this kit, there are no worries. (Steps 7 & 8)

Tamiya provides separately molded shovels, mounted on the rear upper hull, together with separate cables for each side of the hull. The mounts for the shovels are a little chunky, and perhaps could usefully be carved off and replaced by a simple belt and buckle sourced from an appropriate PE set? The tow cables could also use some simple mounting brackets made out of scrap plastic sheet?

Step 9 involves the mounting of the rear hull exhaust, and its protective shield. The exhaust of course gets super-hot, and blisters off the paint, and forms a pitted surface that easily rusts. The protective shield could also get very hot with prolonged use, so paint both appropriately.

Step 11: the addition of more parts for the Crocodile version, the articulated hitch on the rear of the hull for attaching the two wheeled trailer that contains the fuel for the flame thrower.

Step 12: carefully assemble the front sections of the mudguards/fenders and note for the painting stage that they have rubber areas that need painting a dark grey color. On my kit these parts slipped onto the fenders easily and lined up without hassle.

Steps 13 through 15 involve the assembly of the turret. Detail is good, including the cast metal effect for the turret sides. There are four main parts to the turret, a bottom plate, the turret shell in two parts, and a roof part. There is a four-part turret bin that goes on the rear of the turret and hides the seam joint of the two turret shell parts. Only the commander's hatch is molded to open, and there is a nicely detailed four-part commander half figure for mounting in the turret. The co-axial machinegun needs its barrel opening carefully drilled out for a better look.

Steps 17 through 20 involve the assembly of the Crocodile fuel trailer (and is thus unnecessary if you are building the gun tank). The trailer is nicely detailed for the scale, and the fit of the parts is excellent. There was a sink mark (horrors!) on the upper neck of the tow hitch which needed dealing with, but the section affected was a flat area, devoid of raised detail, so posed no problem puttying and sanding smooth. The trailer wheels are two part and have nice tread and wheel nut detail. My one alteration to the kit detail was the removal of the rear trailer door handles which came as molded on blobs, and drilled some holes and fashioned simple handles from brass wire.

I assembled the kit in five sub-assemblies for ease of painting: hull, turret, trailer and the two trailer wheels. All the parts were primed with Tamiya's superb "Fine Surface Primer: Light Grey" item # 87064. When this stuff has cured for a few days, it leaves the parts with an even, super tough initial layer of paint over the plastic, providing all the future coats of paint with a great foundation. Churchills were painted in the British color SCC-15 Dark Green, and Tamiya recommends their color XF-61 Dark Green. I have also seen more complex mixes as follows: Tamiya XF-58 Olive Green:XF-62 Olive Drab, 4:3 Ratio. XF-52 Flat Earth, XF-26 Deep Green, XF-1 Black: 4:4:1 ratio or XF-5 Flat Green, XF-68 NATO Brown, XF-1 Black: 20:6:1 ratio. Whichever mix formula you use, all can be lightened for panel shading with Tamiya XF-60 Dark Yellow. I thin my Tamiya paint with their proprietary brand thinner for excellent results.

Once the main colors had been applied to the kit parts, I airbrushed a few light coats of Tamiya X-22 Gloss Clear in preparation for the decals. The kit supplies two marking schemes, one each for a Churchill Gun tank, the other for a Churchill Crocodile. The Crocodile version of the kit that I built comes with very few decals, which I thought rather boring. So, I simply swapped the decals around, putting the ones meant for the gun tank, on my Crocodile. Sue me. The decals were typical of what one has come to expect from Tamiya over the years: well printed, with everything in register, if a tad thick. But once they were on the kit, and under a few more light coats of X-22 gloss, they were just fine. I then mixed up a suitable "wash" utilizing dark brown oil paint and some odorless mineral spirits and applied this over the turret, tank hull and trailer to pick out the details. This was allowed to dry for three or four days and everything was then sealed with multiple light coats of my favorite "clear matt" acrylic: AK Interactive's Ultra Matte Varnish.

Following the initial matt varnish coat, I took little bits of packing foam that I have saved for such occasions, and holding them with tweezers, dipped a piece into some Vallejo "Dark Rubber" acrylic paint, wicking most of the paint off on a paper towel and went about "chipping" paint on various parts of the model that were painted green. I took another piece of the foam and dipped this into some Vallejo "Track Color" and added rust spots to the exhaust parts. I followed up with some Vallejo "Rust" on the exhaust parts. Finally, I utilized various rust shades from Life Color's acrylic set "Liquid Pigments" rust colored washes. Using the Life Color rust set, I also placed "rust" on the two cables and other parts of the Churchill hull just to add visual "interest". This included the tracks.

Finally, I decided to add lots of road dust to the vehicle, testing out a new set I picked up, Lifecolor's acrylic "Rain and Dust Makeup" set in their Liquid Pigments range. I utilized two colors, Road Dust and Light Earth. I applied these in streaks up and down the sides of the tank and trailer, as well as puddling it around detail on horizontal surfaces. I slowly built up the dust and dirt layers over the course of three sessions. Then to finish off the project I airbrushed a couple of light layers of AK Interactive's Matt Varnish to seal everything, topped off with a few light layers of Tamiya XF-57 Buff acrylic paint, highly thinned, and airbrushed over the entire model, and a little more heavily on the lower regions of the vehicle.

I would like to thank TamiyaUSA for providing IPMS USA with the opportunity to review this superb model. It is simplified in certain ways, but generally is a well detailed model, and is an extremely satisfying build. Absolutely zero problems were experienced in its assembly, and I had a ton of fun taking the raw canvas of the plastic parts and turning it into a lovely piece of armored art! I can highly recommend this kit to modelers of every skill level.

  • Full View Crocodile
    Full View Crocodile
  • Churchill left side
    Churchill left side
  • Churchill overhead
    Churchill overhead
  • Churchill rear deck detail
    Churchill rear deck detail
  • Churchill right side
    Churchill right side
  • Trailer rear end detail
    Trailer rear end detail
  • Trailer right side
    Trailer right side