Saturday, September 12

Andy whips up his Whippet - Pt.II of the Takom Whippet Mk.A Build

We have already seen Takom’s Mk.A Whippet Medium Tank in a review by Andy Moore – Painting the completed kit will come in two day's time, but today Andy puts the kit together to REALLY show you what the fit and construction is like. Enjoy…
Build review PT II
Mk.A Whippet Medium Tank
Kit no. 2025
1/35th scale

In part one we had a good look at what Takom had supplied us with in their new Whippet kit and very nice it looked. But kits aren't for looking, they're for building and painting so let’s get stuck in.
Unsurprisingly, the construction gets underway with the running gear and these early tanks certainly had a lot. In addition to the drive sprocket and idler, there are 16 road wheel assemblies and 5 return rollers to make up for each side. As each of these feature two wheels per axle, that's a grand total of 84 wheels to clean up. In truth, this isn't as arduous a task as it sounds, as all the wheels are hidden once the tracks are fitted, so a few corners can be cut when building up the wheel and axle assemblies.
Takom recommends leaving the wheels unglued on the axles, to rotate freely but, in reality, there's little point to doing this. Gluing the wheels and axles together will make adding them to the hull much easier. There are, in fact, four different road wheel assemblies to make, each slightly different so it's important to pay attention to the instructions to ensure you make up the correct number of each.
Takom have thoughtfully provided a placement guide for the position of each road wheel so, as long as you haven't mixed them up, it's a simple job to add them in the correct order.
The idler wheel was used to adjust the track tension on the real Whippet and Takom has cleverly designed the mounting point to allow the wheel to replicate this feature. Three interconnected holes are moulded on the inner face of the track plate allowing the wheel to sit in three different positions.
The three choices will make quite a dramatic difference to the final look of the tank and you may find you need to add an extra track link if you go with the fully extended option (more on the number of track links required later).
Although you can simply add the idler in the position of your choice and leave it at that, to be fully accurate, the adjustment bolt and wheel mount should be altered to suit the position of the wheel. As I had decided to go with the centre option, the bolt needed to be shortened correspondingly. At this point, I'd love to show you the photos of this work taking place, but sadly my computer decided to eat the pictures so I'll try to explain the procedure instead.

The photo below shows the original configuration of the adjustment bolt and wheel mount. The bolt has a nut moulded part way along its length and the first part of the modification is simply to remove the bolt and cut off the portion up to the nut. The bolt can then be reattached. This also makes it much easier to clean up the small mould line that runs around the bolt.
The second part of the mod is a little more involved but still relatively simple. The mounting bolt for the wheel was carefully sliced off and a hole drilled in the mounting plate where the bolt had been. The bolt was then re-attached further forward and a small length of styrene rod was glued in to the hole to represent the section of the adjustment bolt that would be under the wheel mount.

The finished result can be seen in the photo below. It's a small modification but well worth doing if you're planning on mounting the idler wheel in its centre or forward position.
With that modification done, the rest of the track unit could be built up. The upper and lower support frame and the panels that make up the mud chutes were attached to the inner track plate and left to set before the road wheels and return rollers were added. The wheels were simply glued into place as there is no need to for them to rotate.
When everything had dried, the outer track plate was attached. The fit here was excellent and no filler was required despite the complexity of all the various frames and plates that make up this assembly. The idler and drive sprocket are simply trapped between the inner and outer track plates and remain fully rotatable which will make fitting the tracks easier.
With the running gear finished, it was time to start getting the hull together. The first step was to build up the forward mounted, armoured fuel tank. This was made from five flat plates and I was a little worried about how well these would all line up. I made sure to clean up the mating surfaces before gluing, but it was clear that Takom had designed this kit very well as everything sat squarely and no filler was required.
Encouraged by the fit of the fuel tank, I proceeded to get the rest of the hull together. Again, everything lined up perfectly but it is important to ensure everything is seated correctly before gluing as, if one part is slightly misaligned, it will throw everything else out. I found it easier to hold the parts in position, run liquid cement along the joint, then clamp the parts until the glue had set.
With the hull sides finished, the last part to add is the roof but, before this is attached, the machine guns must be installed. These are designed to remain moveable in their ball mounts but, in the end, I decided to glue them in a fixed position to ease painting. The only modification I made to the guns was to drill out the barrels with a fine bit.
Installing the roof plate proved to be the only awkward part of the build. Although it would align correctly on the left or right side, I couldn't get it to sit squarely on both sides simultaneously. This may have been down to the kit, but more probably down to a slight misalignment of the hull plates on my part. In the end, I got it to fit by securing one side with superglue, then pressing the other side into place and running some plastic weld around the join. Once set, a small amount of filler was required to neaten up some of the joins. Mr Dissolved Putty was painted over the gaps, then the excess wiped away, leaving a neat join that required no further attention.
The rear door was placed slightly ajar to add a bit of interest. There's no point in opening it any wider as the lack of any interior would be very apparent.
With the main hull together, I started to add the remaining details, beginning with the exhaust pipes. I decided to detail these up a little as they're quite a prominent feature on the tank The pipes are covered by small shrouds where they enter the hull. On the kit these are simply solid mouldings which the ends of the exhaust pipes butt up to.
I drilled this out, starting with a small drill bit and increasing the size until the side walls of the shroud were thin enough. I then carefully squared off the back of the hole with the tip of a sharp scalpel blade, before finishing the hole off with a fine needle file.
As the exhaust pipe now needs to extend into the shroud, a short length of plastic rod was glued to the end of the pipe. A couple of millimetres is enough to give the impression of the pipe extending into the hull.
The exhaust pipes themselves had an asbestos rope wrapped muffler but the kit part is smooth with no representation of the wrappings. To remedy this, I wrapped some fine thread around the muffler, securing it with superglue.
With the thread on, a little texture was added to the pipes to give the impression a rusty corroded finish. This was simply done by stippling putty onto the pipes with a stiff brush.
The moulded mounting brackets were sliced off and replacements made from thin fuse wire. Holes were drilled in the hull to accept the wire brackets and, once the exhausts were attached, the brackets were secured in the holes with superglue.
I decided to use only one of the two stowage boxes that mount behind the cab. These are moulded with smooth, flat sides but, in reality, would have been wooded crates. To represent this, I scored horizontal lines on the sides to represent the planks, then added some woodgrain texture with a coarse file.
I added a bit of stowage in the form of a tarp sheet made from tissue soaked in watered down PVA. This was simply pushed into the crate, allowing a couple of corners to hang over the edge, then left to dry.
The last bits to add were the delicate PE brackets for the track guards. I added a couple of bolt heads to these, taken from the spares moulded on the sprue frames. I bent one of the brackets on the fuel tank to show a little battle damage.
Oh yes, I almost forgot, there's some track too, isn't there. These were so quick and easy to put together you barely notice you've done it. The instructions call for 69 links per side but I found this to be too long. After a couple of test fittings, I decided that 67 gave the best fit. If you fit the idler wheel fully out you may need to add an extra link. There are plenty of spares provided in the box.
So, with that the construction was complete. At this stage, I left the fuel tank separate until I'd got some primer into the nooks and crannies that would have been harder to spray with it fitted. 
Part III - the painting and weathering - will be published in a day or two here on TMN

Andy Moore

Our thanks to Takom for sending this model to Andy to review and make.