Kit: No. 35221
Manufacturer: Tamiya, imported by Tamiya America, 2 Orion, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656-4200, &800-826-4922
Comments: Injection molded, 228 parts (21 vinyl), decals.
The Cromwell was the last of the line of British tanks called "cruisers." It was designed for battlefield exploitation after the slower "infantry" tanks like the Churchill established the breakthrough. The Cromwell served in Europe from the Normandy invasion on, and was also with the British forces in Korea. It led to the development of the Comet, which marked the beginning of a main battle tank in the British army.
This is the first injection-molded kit of the Cromwell in this scale. The components are molded in flash-free dark-olive plastic. I found no sinkholes or molding marks anywhere.
Detailing is top-notch. The rolled-armor-plate effect is nicely captured. The unique suspension design with its double-walled hull is faithfully reproduced, too. Options include the "Normandy" exhaust cowl and the famous hedgerow cutter. A clear sprue provides a lens for the searchlight, bottles, a lantern, and crew goggles. A partial turret interior - seats and gun breech - and one crew figure round out the detail.
When you build the suspension and chassis, see if your choice featured the internal track tension system; parts A16 and C26/27 represent this. The excellent history section of the instructions provides background on this feature.
Overall, construction moves swiftly and I encountered no major problems. There are options for several features: The driver's vision port can be posed open two ways. Separate armored shutters are provided for the commander's periscopes so they can be displayed raised or lowered. All of the turret and hull hatches are separate parts, allowing them to be positioned.
I decided to use the Normandy cowl, part C18, on my kit. I sanded the locating edges from its bottom for a better fit. They interfered with the vinyl screening on the engine exhaust port. (Tamiya also offers a separate detail set that features a photoetched screen.) The engine-screen frame (part C21) required a little effort to make it flush with the hull. I left off the fender and side shields until later to allow better access when adding the one-piece vinyl track.
My model was painted with Polly Scale paints. Decals for five vehicles were provided. They went on without problems, except for the turret-roof star; it wasn't pliable enough to conform to the complex shape of the ventilator cover. Carefully sectioning the star decal should do the trick.
My main reference was The Cromwell Tank, Vehicle History and Specifications by Her Majesty's Stationery Office. According to its dimensions, the model scales accurately.
Tamiya's Cromwell seemed to fly together - I finished it in only 17 hours. It captures the boxy look of the original effectively, and any modeler who has built a few tank kits should be able to handle it. Those who are looking to add this important British tank to their model collection should rejoice!
- Jim Zeske