Saturday, December 20

Build Review: Takom’s 35th scale WWI Heavy Tank w/Rear Mortar Mark.IV “Tadpole”

We have seen a few of Takom’s kits and built a few in reviews here on TMN.  We have found them simple to build with a lot of detail and almost a bit of a throwback to the Tamiya white box its with 21st century details. Today Paul Lee sees if the latest WWI tank – the “Tadpole” with a big ol’ mortar on the rear matches it’s brothers in arms…

Build Review:
WWI Heavy Tank w/Rear Mortar Mark.IV
Male Tadpole
Nr. #2015
Manufacturer: Takom
Scale: 1:35
As soon as the British tanks first started to appear across no-man's Land in 1916, the Germans needed to start thinking of ways to stops those so called landships. Of all the possible ideas, the simplest and easiest one to do was to simply widen the trenches so that the tanks couldn't just drive over them and would instead just fall into it
For the British, the simplest solution to this problem was to just lengthen the tank, and so the Tadpole was born. However while it was sound in theory, in practice it was much more complicated than that and the track extensions suffered from weak connection points and consequently flexed too much so that it could barely turn. So the tadpole never made it past the prototype stage.
With the centenary of the First World War, it shouldn't come as a great surprise that we have seen a lot more WWI releases of late, and how nice it has been to see rare tanks being produced with current injection moulding technology. Just like in real life, the Takom Tadpole is a development of the Mk IV male tank first released.
Takom has basically engineered this kit like an Ikea flat pack. You get eleven sprues altogether, five of which are duplicates and are parts for the running gear because there is so much of it.  By moulding each panel individually, Takom has moulded details on both sides of some particular pieces giving some very nice interior and exterior detail. Unfortunately you will find as you build up this kit that most of the interior detail will not be visible.
A lot of the pieces on this sprue won't actually be used in this kit. The instructions don't mention this which makes planning ahead difficult if you are the type that likes to get rid of unnecessary pieces from the sprue.
The armament is very well detailed and features hollowed out barrels for the Lewis guns and 6 pounders. 
The six pounders also have some very nice breech detail. 
The mortar comes in halves but that also means that the edges of the tube seem quite thin so I don't think a metal replacement is necessary.
You also get a very small fret of photo etch although much of this won't be used either, but again the instructions don't mention this.
The instruction booklet is very nicely presented with a soft cardboard cover, and is very well laid out, with only one or two vague areas in the directions but nothing too hard to figure out. You also get a separate colour profile of the tank with five views, although the tank is basically green so there really isn't much to it. There are no markings on the tank so there are no decals in the kit either. 
Construction starts with the driver’s cabin which comes in four plates. Edges that join with other plates are bevelled to form a mitre when assembled. The instructions tell you to assemble the rear plate to the sides and top before adding the frontal plate, however since the edges are only bevelled and give no indication on getting the alignment right, I actually found it easier to use the front plate to align the two sides first because it is keyed by the strip used to hold the rod for the vision port.

I had to use a bit of putty on the top edges and lower joins as you can see, however I think this may have been the result of some overzealous sanding rather than a shortcoming of the kit. The same goes for the top edge of the back and also to fill in the notches for the Lewis gun mounts and that is all the putty I used for this kit. The Lewis guns in the kit have their muzzles hollowed out although the edges are still a bit thick so I thinned them out a bit more like the real thing.
The body comes next and this comes in five plates which look like they will fold like a house of cards if you try to assemble them upright. I assembled the hull on its side which also had the advantage of ensuring the plates were vertically aligned The rear plate should be 90 degrees to the floor plate so you can use that as your starting point because the forward plates join at angles. As you can see the shoulders of the cabin fit perfectly on the hull.
The exhausts and some structures on the roof are next and these are fairly straight forward again. Just make sure you get the alignment right and you won't encounter any problems here. This is also where you will use the majority of the photo etch for this kit, two braces for the exhaust, and some bolts on a box like structure around the exhaust.

Construction then moves to the rear hull with some details and a box like structure which attaches to the rear. The box is also where you will use the last of the photo etch for this kit. Yay! As you can see the surface detail on this kit looks great. 
Next step is then the hull sides which is basically an inside and outside plate sandwiching some internal structures and the running gear. Once again, alignment is key here.
As you can see there is some nice interior detail there. There are some gaps I could have filled but they will not be seen once it is closed up, although the gap at the bottom is actually a step which I assume is meant to be there?

Wheels are next and this tank really does have its fair share of wheels. Thirty six pairs to be exact, and that is only for one side which could potentially be a very tedious process. The drive sprocket is also beautifully detailed although completely invisible when installed.
The next step involves attaching the outer hull side which did have me worried about how well all the interior plates and thirty six axles would line up to their corresponding side. But once again, my concerns were misplaced as the kit is engineered that well, so that as long as every piece is at a right angle or close enough, all that was needed was a little gentle pressure, and the odd little prod, and you feel and hear that satisfying little click of the plastic tongue going into its appropriate groove. This is also the point you discover that almost all that interior detail just disappears and this is all you see. 
The potentially work intensive set thirty six sets of wheels doesn't fare any better either.
I use the word potentially because as you can see, the wheels do not actually protrude from the bottom of the hull and sit inside the sandwich, so that when the tracks are wrapped around, the wheels will be completely invisible.
Only the rims of the 12 larger sets are in line with the bottom which will affect the sit of the tracks if you leave them out so to save yourself some work you could just insert the axles of the smaller road wheels and not have to worry about the associated clipping and cleaning up of the smaller wheels. You've probably already noticed that I haven't really bothered with too much cleaning up on my wheels.

The cement free workable tracks come next, and Takom really has delivered on this. Insert one of the pins into the connector, a little gentle pressure on the other side and click! A workable track link. Why can't all individual link track links be this simple? There was the occasional bit of flash on the connector but that is all I can really complain about. That and the fact that you have to do this one hundred and seventeen times. Per side. Sigh. Well a hundred and seventeen is what the instructions say. I did a test run and found it to be one link short but you do get spares so this is not a problem at all.

Next up is the hull sponsons and the armament. The six pounders are beautifully detailed and look great. The instructions say the six pounders are inserted to their mounts with poly caps. However I couldn’t find poly caps in the box and the contents list in the instruction booklet make no mention of poly caps.  The sponson plates also present no problems as long as you get the alignment right.
However once again, while the interior looks great, none of it is visible once you attach the sponsons to the side of the hull. I did find that the sponsons were slightly smaller than the holes provided for them, more so on the right side for some strange reason.
The rear mortar and its platform are next and should present no trouble at all. The mortar tube comes in halves but the seam was minimal when they were attached.

Now comes the fun part of putting it all together, which involves sandwiching the central hull and mortar platform in between the hull sides, and then attaching the sponsons to the hull sides.

The instructions make it look like the mortar platform attaches to the rear hull of the main body, however they are only attached to the track extensions via some small tongue and groove joints.
It was at this point that I stumbled across a very strange phenomenon that is more associated with aircraft models than armour in that the tank seems to be sitting on it's tail.
Now with a nose weight the tank seems to be sitting at a more correct angle.
This picture appears to have it somewhere between both angles. .
It should also be noted that it is quite possible that the weight of the sponsons will be enough to change the sit of the model as this picture shows.
However, I'm not sure that the sponsons attached to the sides would exert the same amount of pressure, and since there would be no way of correcting it once I attached the sponsons, I chose to add the nose weight mainly because I thought it looked better being parallel to the ground.

Now all that is left is to wrap the tracks around and the tank is complete! Here are some of the smaller details in close up
I must say that I was thoroughly impressed with the detail and fit of this kit and think that Takom has done a magnificent job with it. As mentioned numerous times throughout, alignment is the key to this kit, and that if you get the alignment right, then the fit will be right. Whilst it is not a beginner kit, someone who has done a few kit shouldn't have too many problems putting this kit together.
I would say that I would love to do another one except that there was only ever produced unless I wanted to do venture into what if territory. Apart from that, I highly recommend this kit.

Paul Lee

These are now available from Takom’s Distributors Worldwide