Airfix 1/76 Cromwell Tank

Another practise kit, but one I actually like... 

While my recent FW190 kit served it's purpose by getting me back into model making and showing me that I could managed to make a reasonable job at it (with some frustrations and patience), the subject of the model itself wasn't one that I am entirely keen on. So this time I'm very excited as my next attempt will be with one of my favourite British tanks...

The Cromwell - Finally a Good British Tank!

It might seem a little unfair to dismiss every British inter-war and WW2 tank as 'a bit rubbish' before the Cromwell came along, but that's simply a bias that I inherited from my father - who served in North Africa during the Second World War and had very little good to say about our tanks during the first half of the war.

Cromwell Tank
Above: Winston Churchill during the Second World War Winston Churchill
 inspects a Cromwell Mk IV tank of No. 2 Squadron, 2nd (Armoured
Reconnaissance) Battalion, Welsh Guards, at Pickering in Yorkshire,
31 March 1944. Source: Wikipedia

In fairness early war British tanks were very much hit and miss as far as quality goes and for each good point any one of them might said to have had each also had an Achilles heal. So, if , like the Matilda II, say, a tank design was well armoured, it lacked mobility, or when it was fast - like the Crusader - it was depressingly unreliable, and so on and so forth...

It didn't help that British armour philosophy divided a tank's role into that of infantry support (heavily, armoured and slow) and that of the 'cruiser' tank (light, mobile for engaging other armour). The concept of the 'universal' tank was not yet a thing and wouldn't be until late war.

But, after much tinkering about in a shed (it seems) we finally came up with the Cromwell. A bit late really, it was a design that would have shined and led the way in 1943 instead of being the tank that came ashore on D-Day in 1944 to meet innovative German tanks like the Panther! That said, even then it had it's advantages and - most importantly - set British tank design philosophy on the right track from then on in!

You can read more about the history of the Crowell tank over on Wikipedia >here< or here's a very nice little video on the subject...

Airix's Cromwell - A Tidy Little Kit

Rather like real British tank design history, early Airfix tank kits were a bit 'iffy' - like their first attempt at the M4 Sherman which was my introduction to tank building in the 1960s. While their early kits sufficed for the hobbyist in the 60s, by the 1970s they were looking a bit shabby and with the introduction of more modem makes like Matchbox in the early 80s Airfix was starting to look very much like a has been.

Still, Airfix hung on in there and didn't vanish like a lot of other British toy manufacturers did and from the 1990s to today have actually fought their way back to being a reputable model manufacturer with some very well respected and sought after models in their inventory.

While I cannot date the manufacture of this Cromwell kit it appears to be one of the newer mouldings which is well designed, fairly accurate and is sharply moulded with nice detail. This particular box set is designated as an Airfix 'starter set' so is intended for beginner modellers, so isn't too complicated and comes with everything you need to get the kit built and painted.

Airfix 1/76 Cromwell Sprues
Above: The Airfix 1/76 Cromwell tank components. Nice sharp and fairly
detailed mouldings and - thank the Lord - they ditched the old style of
rubber band tracks that us oldies had to deal with!

I was even rather surprised to read that you could paint the supplied acrylic paints directly onto the plastic without need for priming! 😲 (Suffice to say, I won't be doing that, but its a nice touch for young and beginner modeller.)

I guess the only stumbling block with this kit is that Airfix are sticking to their guns with 1/76 scale, so if you are a 1/72 collector then the Revell version of this tank might be a better alternative, though - apparently - both are equally as well done.

And So, Off We Go...

I'll be starting this kit in just over a weeks time as I'm just about to go on holiday (no sense in starting it now). It'll be interesting to see how long this one takes me as there are - obviously - a lot more parts in this slightly larger scale kit.

I'll start by a more organised plan than I did with the previous model, plus I might try some scratch built upgrades and accessories to customise the kit. I have two ideas for how to portray this tank; one is in parade ground pristine condition - as it might have appeared in VE day celebrations in 1945 - and the other is in battlefield condition as it would have been in Normandy in 1944. Hmmm? 🤔

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