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Tamiya 1/35 scale Mark IV "Male" tank

Kit:30057 // Scale:1/35 // Price:$127
Great detail and accurate shapes; good fits, easy build; terrific tracks; motor
Motorization complicates construction
Injection-molded, 577 parts (1 electric motor, 26 metal, 15 vinyl), tools, Velcro, screws, chain, rubber tubing, decals
It’s been 100 years since the start of World War I, so it’s hardly surprising to see new kits from the conflict gracing store shelves. Still, Tamiya’s announcement of a 1/35 scale British Mark IV tank came as a surprise, albeit a pleasant one.

Perhaps the bombshell in the announcement was that the kit would be motorized, a flashback to Tamiya’s earliest armor kits. It had modelers wondering if that would make the kit more toy than model.

Fear not. Even with the novelty of motion, Tamiya’s Mark IV captures the rhomboid clunkiness of the landship.
The tan parts show terrific surface detail. The Mark IV is a mass of rivets and flat panels that is reproduced faithfully. It’s sharp molding that will catch washes and dry-brushing and really pop!

This release contains everything you need to build a running replica: a motor with attached switch; battery container and metal contacts; a metal shaft; a bunch of cogs; and metal sprockets. Tamiya even includes self-adhesive Velcro to secure the battery holder; a screwdriver and hex key to build the running parts; grease to lubricate the running gear; and warning stickers!

Far from the vinyl runs that were the standard with early motorized tanks, the Mark IV comes with individual-link tracks that click together in a jiffy. They come bagged as individual items — no sprues and zero cleanup required. All you have to do is place one pin inside the corresponding hole in the adjoining link, then apply a little pressure to click the other pin in place. It took me 20 minutes to assemble both runs of 87 tracks. I wish all tracks were this easy.

The rest of the build is as smooth. The first seven steps center on installing the motor. I found the kit’s screwdriver a bit too small, preferring to use a slightly larger one to avoid stripping the heads.

Polycaps secure the hull roof, sponsons, and rear sections of the track tails, allowing access to the motor. That and some inaccuracies in the running gear — the Mark IV drive sprockets were powered by chains from the main shaft — are the only concessions to motorization, and they are hidden on the finished model. Unmentioned in the instructions and unused on the sprues are realistic drive sprockets and idlers. It may be possible to build the model without the motor, or it may be an indication of an non-motorized kit on the horizon.

Building the 156 road wheels — there are two different kinds, one of which builds up from four parts — took the most time. It’s not difficult, just time-consuming. Follow Tamiya’s lead when installing the road wheels and use tape. It helps align everything, especially where they overlap.

The naval 6-pounders in the sponsons include the breech and block, gunsight, and elevation controls. Polycaps allow the guns to traverse and elevate smoothly. The Lewis guns have separate open muzzles, but no breeches or butts.

I had the model ready to paint after about eight hours. Tamiya calls for a mix of equal parts flat earth (XF-52) and deck tan (XF-55) for the hull. It does give a good rendition of the “tank brown” most Mark IVs received in 1917-18.

Decals provide markings for three vehicles, including names and hull numbers. They settled over the bumpy detail with help from an undercoat of clear gloss and Microscale decal solutions.
Some versions of the kit include Tamiya’s British WWI Infantry set featuring five figures with weapons and gear.

The finished model looks clunky and awkward, just like the real thing. The accurate shapes and easy assembly make this a winner. I recommend it to any modeler.

And the motor works perfectly, driving the tank over obstacles with ease. Just don’t expect to get anywhere in a hurry — it runs at a stately pace, in keeping with the full-size Mark IV’s top speed of 4 mph.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the January 2015 FineScale Modeler.
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