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Takom 1/35 scale Mark IV "Male" heavy battle tank

Kit:2008 // Scale:1/35 // Price:$57.95
Well-detailed track links; good use of photoetched metal; turned-metal gun barrels; easy assembly
Track links are a tedious build; kit-supplied chain is heavy and chrome-plated; loose mounts means gluing the Lewis guns in place
Injection-molded, 1,432 parts (2 cast-metal, 2 vinyl, 22 photoetched metal)
With the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I in 2014, model companies have produced several early tank models. But none has been as eagerly awaited as a new British Mark IV tank.

Takom has now released its Mark IV in both “female” and “male” versions. The kit features excellent detail — as you would expect with a staggering parts count of more 1,400! Most of the pieces (1,200) are used in the tracks and running gear — five to each track link, almost 200 links, and 54 pairs of road wheels.

Included in the kit are two turned-metal barrels for the 6-pounder cannons as well as a bit of chain and a small fret of photoetched metal. Decals cover two vehicles: the British Lodestar III and a captured vehicle in German camouflage and markings. The large instruction booklet features clear assembly diagrams. An errata sheet is included, too.

I knew the tracks would take time, so I started with them. I cleaned up the parts from one track sprue and assembled them before tackling another sprue. First, I added all of the B5 brackets; by the time I had all 40 done, they were dry enough to add the next. This way, it took me about 2 hours to do a whole sprue.

The links clicked together nicely, with only a few being stubborn. If you’d rather not go to this trouble, Takom suggests simply gluing the pads to the side hulls. But then there is no gap between the hull side and track links. You could just glue the outside brackets (parts B5 and B2) to the pads; they don’t hold together as well as the full assembly, but they are still easy to install. I did this on one side, and I can’t tell the difference.

Next, the main hull: The ball mount for the Lewis gun in the front plate was very loose; I had to glue the gun in place. Once I assembled the hull, I clamped it between the inside panels of the outside hulls with a couple of rubber bands. After the glue dried, I added details to the hull.

Careful with the hull sides: The instructions sometimes turn the assembly upside down, and they switch from inside to outside without warning. Gluing the drive-sprocket halves together, make sure the teeth are aligned. The locating pin is imprecise, and that can cause problems for the tracks. The road-wheel axles pop securely into the side panel with a little push. The single upper road wheel (return roller?) should be flanged, but you won’t see it unless you build yours with a thrown track.

While the drive-sprocket location is fixed, the idler wheel can be placed in several locations to set track tension. However, you can’t install the tracks until the hull sides are assembled, and you have to position the idler wheel during assembly. I set mine so the idler was flush with the hull sides, and my tracks fit fine.

The 6-pounder guns have excellent detail. Unfortunately, you won’t see any of it unless you leave a door open — but the interior is otherwise empty. Since the 6-pounder loader is always on the same side of the gun, the left sponson is larger than the right to make room for the loader. I filled seams in the three-piece gun shields with a little Mr. Surfacer 500. Once again, the Lewis guns had to be glued down to loose mounts.

When assembling the sponsons, you’ll notice a small seam when the panels are positioned correctly. This is accurate, as the sponson panels were riveted to angle iron with small gaps at the joints.

After adding the sponsons, I was ready to paint. References say the Mark IV tanks were brown. But this probably varied. Takom suggests Tamiya khaki (XF-49). So, after painting red and white recognition panels, I airbrushed with khaki. Then I added Tamiya flat earth (XF-52) or deck tan (XF-55) to the khaki to vary the solid color, trying for the streaky weathering seen in many photos. After a coat of Vallejo clear gloss came the decals, which I covered with clear flat after they were dry.

I had some problems adding the ditching beam. The chain is difficult to work with, and its chrome plating resisted my blackening liquid. So, I had to paint it. I decided not to add the grousers, but I painted some and threw them in the storage bin.

I spent about 30 hours building my Mark IV, about half on the tracks. Takom has released a set of one-piece clickable tracks, and I believe they’ll be included in future releases.

The finished model matches perfectly the dimensions in Great War Tank: Mark IV; Owners’ Workshop Manual, by David Fletcher (Haynes, ISBN 978-0-85733-242-4).

It’s great to finally have a state-of-the-art Mark IV kit, and I’m looking forward to more from Takom. Aside from the complicated tracks, any modeler with some building experience should be able to add this kit to their collection.

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