When Great Britain entered World War II, there were more Vickers-Armstrongs Mk.VI light tanks than any other type of tank in the British inventory. The Mk.VIs saw frontline service until 1942, and were even used by Egypt in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.
Vulcan Scale Models scores a first with its 1/35 scale injection-molded kit of the Mk.VI. In dark gray plastic, the kit features excellent surface detail, a small sheet of photoetched-metal parts, and injection-molded link-and-length tracks. Markings are provided for two vehicles. The black-and-white instructions use exploded diagrams to show parts placement, but at times the drawings are busy and the parts’ locations vague. Five-view diagrams are supplied for painting, but the second vehicle does not have its camouflage pattern displayed in the top view.
Assembly starts with the main hull. With only a driver’s seat inside, I glued all my hatches shut. I wish I would have installed the driver’s hatches before adding the top deck (Part C18); it was difficult to get parts C3 and C25 in position with the deck in place. I added a small piece of plastic strip to provide a ledge for the two hatches.
Assembling the bogies takes a lot of care and attention to the diagrams. First, I sorted the springs and shafts into long and short piles. I found if I drilled the centers of the castle nuts (B3) with a No. 72 drill bit before removing them from the sprue, they fit snugly on the shafts. If you get it right, you will be rewarded with suspension units that actually work (though the springs provided are very stiff). I left the bogies and tracks off until I had painted the main camouflage.
While some of the photoetched-metal parts are also available in plastic, the photoetched metal looks more to-scale. Some parts, such as the driver’s hatch stops, the handles for the searchlight, the license-plate bracket, and the blade sight for the turret, are photoetched metal only; you’ll need some skill at bending. The most difficult pieces are the headlight boxes, but they look so much better than the injection-molded parts that it is worth the extra effort.
I mixed Tamiya acrylics according to formulas provided in the instructions. To get the hard-edge camouflage pattern, I hand-brushed the separation lines, then filled them in with the airbrush. I applied decals over a coat of Pledge Future floor polish; the decals looked a little thick on the sheet, but I found they responded well to Micro Sol. And after a coat of flat clear, they looked great.
The most difficult part of the model was installing the tracks. I had to trim the bogie-unit attachments slightly to get them to sit properly. The drive-sprocket attachment point is weak; were I to build another kit, I would modify it for a more-solid attachment. Trying to get all the track and suspension pieces to fit was a real juggling act, as nothing can be set solid until all is in place. The tracks do fit well, but they are a challenge.
I spent about 26 hours building my Mark VI, a little longer than normal due to the paint scheme, photoetched metal, and track installation. The finished model matched published dimensions.
This tiny tank had several variants, including use as a self-propelled gun and anti-aircraft vehicle. I hope Vulcan treats us to some of these, too. I would only recommend this kit to experienced modelers, but it is a lot of kit for the price.
Note: A version of this review appeared in the January 2011 issue of FineScale Modeler.