Saturday, September 13

Takom's WWI British Mk.IV Male: Part 1- Building the Behemoth..

Clayton has pulled off some very nice builds here on TMN in the past – and it seems to us he likes everything with ungainly irregular shapes and rivets – so we gave him the Takom's brand new Mk.IV (Male) tank of WWI Vintage to make – the female version as well – and so Clayton got stuck into making this big-gunned version first – here he shares his thoughts so far…

Takom
WWI British Mk.IV Male: Part 1-The Build.
By Clayton Ockerby
Highly detailed workable track-links and wheels
Accurate suspension and drive system
2 pcs metal gun barrel
Photo Etched details
 Two markings For English and captured German tanks
You can get these through Takom’s Distributors Worldwide.

So here I am, a self proclaimed WWII fanatic building an unmistakably WWI vehicle.  Who would have thought?
There is a definite excitement in the air around the First World War. The recent references in the media with the 100 year anniversary and the bulk of new kits and figure sets celebrating the men and the machines coming on to the market has created a real buzz around the genre… well at least for me.

So here I have the new 1/35 Mk IV Male tank from Takom. Here is the feature list from Takom
This release is obviously going to be competing directly against the Tamiya release of the similar Mark V in the same time frame. There is no doubting these kits will be compared and discussed. That said I am yet to see the Tamiya kit in the flesh, so will simply enjoy the build on its merits. I will say though, there is something about the Tamiya kit coming with a motor that makes me feel it is aimed at a different market, however the jury is out for me at the moment.

The thing that is playing on my mind with this build is the 1000 odd pieces required for the tracks. There are 5 pieces you need to assemble per track link.  I do understand that Takom are looking to release an upgraded, simplified track set and had that been available I would have snapped it up.

The tracks in close up

The Build

The structure of the body went together as a self-supporting unit. There was a room for a little bit of movement with it, so I am hoping there will be no fit issues moving forward. I also modeled the viewing hatches open for a bit of interest.  I will look to add some finer detail a little later.
There were fit issues with the driver cap that sits on the top of the structure. The pieces didn’t seem to line up or fit properly. This was as good as I could get it, so will need to get some filler into those gaps.
NOTE – I have been lucky enough to have the Female version of this kit also and decided to see how the fit on that kit would go (exactly the same parts). Rather that preassemble the parts and then fit them to the main structure, I built them up using the main structure as the foundation.
This proved to solve all of my problems and the kit went together beautifully.  I will put the issues I had with the Male down to builder error.)

Exhaust in place.
I figured out a lot of the fit issues from the previous pic could have been correct with a quick sanding to clean up the miters. A clean 45 degree angle made the joins a lot cleaner.

Sanding to make it fit...
Some tiny photoetch was required. A handy hint to manage the fit is to use a piece of Blutac to old the piece in please.  There is nothing worse than super gluing photoetch to your finger.
More photo-etch – the brackets around the exhaust. Simple to form around a pencil. I found the right angles required were easy enough to fold with your fingers and no special tool was required.
Rear components are now in place. Again, sanding the mitres on the parts before assembling them made the joins a lot cleaner. Also note the tiny photo etch dots we applied with the Blutac are now in place.
The internals of the running gear are coming together. I think the detail and the effort in the gears is just a waste as it will never see the light of day. Not sure what the thinking behind including those parts was.
A close up shot of some more little photoetch on the model. Fine detail like this always enhances the look of a finished model. The piece was easily bent by hand.
The track ‘pylon’ (for want of a better word) has now been sealed. You immediately loose all vision of any of the internals. I also find it hard to see how you will even get a peek at the wheels around it either.
There are 5 pieces per track link to assemble. You can see here a number of lengths have been preassembled - (I must thank a friend for some help on this one…).  The construction is time consuming and over complicated. Given you really only see the top side of the track on the finished model I feel the mechanism to connect the tracks could have been simplified.
A close up of a track length clearly shows some issues with what can happen if the joining parts of the tracks are slightly out of position. This is an extreme case and they don’t all look like this. I also found after test fitting the tracks to the pylon looked very lumpy and wasn’t sitting properly in parts.
The instructions note that should you not wish to build the workable tracks you have the option of just fitting the tread of the links to the pylon.
Due to potential issues with track alignment I made the decision to use simplified method for fitting the tracks. I used the premade lengths around the curved running gear areas of the pylon to add some realism and break up the uniformity.

All very clean and done in about a tenth of the time it would have taken to build the workable tracks -and repeat!
The gun assembly is quite detailed. Shame no one will get to see it.
Seen fitted with the shields.  I will fill the joins with some putty before fitting in place.
The metal barrels are a nice inclusion.
The construction of the gun pod was a little problematic. I wasn’t sure how some of the pieces were supposed to sit. I knew what the end result was supposed to be and fudged through it. Should look OK once painted up. Just a few small alignment issues – again could be builder error.
Gun pods all in place on the track structures ready to attach. The fit was very tight and didn’t quote sit as nicely as I would have hoped. It was OK though and should all come good with a touch of filler and a splash of paint. 
The photoetch for the ‘unditching beam’ is very fine and you will require a tool to bend it all into position. Fine details like these really are worth the effort in the end. The fine details help give a model a feeling of scale.
I found the chain supplied in the kit was so heavy and strong it was too hard to manipulate and pinch closed as suggested in the instructions. I am sure there is a technique to this however I substituted the chain with some finer chain I had in the stash. Whilst my chain was still fiddly and difficult to work with it was a lot easier than the chain supplied in the kit.
The results speak for themselves. This will be a stunning little feature on the complete model. Prepare yourself though, because this is testing work and will take you some time.
The unditching beam with the chains all fitted. The PE on the edges is a nice touch too.
Both sides of the tank are now assembled and ready to fit to the body.
Here are some pictures of the finished build. I am yet to attach the chains of the unditching beam, as this will be done after the painting is complete.
There are also some additional pieces included in the kit to fit on the tracks, however I am not sure if I will be including them at this point.
Ready for paint.

Conclusion
With the build stage now complete I have to say this model has really grown on me. For essentially a shoebox with guns it has a great deal of detail and builds to be a really nice looking model.

From what I have seen of the Tamiya kit, this Takom kit will give the modeller a far greater challenge but more rewarding build. The details and build requirements in the wheels, tracks and running gear all look to be more complex and superior to me. The detail in the guns is really a thing of beauty also. 
Unfortunately all the detail in those guns will be very hard to display given the lack of other interior detail in the kit.  If you were to leave a hatch open to display the beautiful detail of the gun you would essentially look into a whole heap of nothing.  There is a big opportunity for an aftermarket upgrade here. Perhaps given Takom are releasing cement free workable tracks they could also release an interior kit for this line of models?

This is quite a complex little build in parts and would think that it would be suited to the modeller with a reasonable amount of bench time under the belt.

For me modeling is all about the paint and the construction is just something I have to do to get to that. I am looking forward getting the paint down in Part 2 of this article and letting this bad boy have a play in the mud. 

Clayton Ockerby

Thanks to Takom for sending this kit to build - You can get this kit through Takom’s Distributors Worldwide.
You can see more of Clayton’s work on www.theworkbench.com.au