Cromwell Mk. IV
The Cromwell ranks as one of the more successful British tank designs of the World War II. Designed as a successor for Crusader, the Cromwell was based on the late-1940 specification which increased the requirements on the thickness of armour and the efficiency of armament. The design bas of basically the same shape and size as the Crusader, but much heavier. Two prototypes were made by two British manufacturers, the A27L with a Liberty engine and the A27M powered by 12-cylinder Rolls-Royce Meteor, a detuned version of the Merlin aircraft engine. Cruiser Tank Centaur was later based on the A27L design, while the A27M became Cruiser Tank Mk VIII Cromwell. Like the Crusader, the Cromwell utilised Christie-type suspension, which, however, had had to be extensively re-designed due to the increased weight of the vehicle.
Production models first appeared in January 1943. The first three versions of the Cromwell carried a 6pdr. gun and one or two Besa machine guns. In 1943 it was decided to equip the tank with the new and more efficient 75mm cannon, which allowed ammunition interchangeability with US Army sources. The resulting Cromwells Mk IV entered service in October of the same year.
Compared to modern German panzers which it faced in Normandy, the Cromwell proved weak on armour and like the Sherman, had relatively poor armament. However, the advantages of its suspension made the Cromwell one of the fastest and most manoeuvrable tanks on the battlefield, and it did much to compensate for its weaknesses. It also earned itself an excellent reputation for performance, reliability and speed.
The Cromwell design laid foundations for the later design of the Comet, arguably the best British tank of World War II.
Tamiya does Cromwell
During the past decade or two, fans of WWII British armour have not been cherished by major kit manufacturers. The market was tackled by a few resin manufactures and was mostly ignored by larger plastic kit companies.
When it arrived, the Tamiya Cromwell has been long awaited break to this sad trend, and it fills an important gap in the market. It is certainly one of the best kits Tamiya has to offer. The moulds are accurate and finely detailed, down to the bolt heads, weld seams and armour plate texture. If desired, this kit will produce a very good model straight from the box. I have chosen to enhance it with Aber photoetched set and metal tracks from Friulmodel.
The interior of the tank was painted white, weathered with some washes and then some scratches and dirt was added to suggest a used vehicle. Unfortunately the interior is not visible once the tank is completed but I know that it is there.
The Aber set was quite extensive and of the highest quality. There were a lot of parts - some of them, where the benefit was not obvious, where not used. I used all locks and hinges, tool holders, rear mud guards, handles to the light and the mechanical sight in front of the tank commander. Also, all grab handles where replaced with thin wire.
The painting is the aspect of modelling that I find most rewarding. As I usually build other subjects than armour, in preparation for painting my Cromwell I read quite a few articles on painting and weathering tanks. The newly gained knowledge came to good use in finishing the model.
As a starter the model was painted with green as per kit instructions. To lighten the effect, areas of lighter base colour were sprayed inside panels. After this a thin mist of the original colour was used to soften the effect.
A filter of heavily thinned oil colour was then applied. After this the model was gloss-coated and the decals where applied. I had some serious problem with the star decal on top of the turret as it partially overlapped a ventilation hood. Large amounts of Microsol were used and complimented with some brush paining.
The tank was then given a flat coat and the weathering could commence. Mud-coloured paint was sprayed underneath the tank and also on the centres of the wheels. A wash of Humbrol 72 was applied at selected places to simulate dust. At the sides of the tank the wash was applied by making strokes downwards with the paintbrush. It created a subtle effect of dust that has been partially washed away by rain.
Scratches were added by using light green colour that was painted on with a fine brush. Some of the larger scratches where painted with dark brown in the middle. Later on a soft lead pencil was used on the dark brown colour at places to simulate metal effect. This is a very effective way of getting a subtle metal effect that looks most convincing.
Dark earth colour was sprayed underneath the tank and mudguards.
The original tracks where replaced with tracks from Friul. Assembly of the tracks was quite tedious but the result is stunning. Once assembled the tracks were painted and weathered.
In order to make the model a bit more interesting stowage and some figures where added. The various gear carried on the rear hull comes from Accurate Armour, and was decaled with tiny dry-transfers from Verlinden. Thin sewing thread was used to secure the stowage at the back of the tank.
The crew figures have been picked from Verlinden, Ultracast and Hornet.
Additional images, click to enlarge