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Mike

Mk.A Whippet Medium Tank 1:35

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Mk.A Whippet Medium Tank
1:35 Takom


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Arriving in 1917, the Whippet was engineered to complement the new heavy tanks that were making inroads into the German lines, on the basis that the faster, lighter tanks could exploit the openings made by the Mark IVs and Vs. They were equipped with two engines and whether this is a coincidence or not, had double the speed over the field than the heavies, at an eye-watering 8mph. Armed with a quartet of Hotchkiss .303 machine guns shared between the commander and gunner, they could technically cover all-round, but this involved a lot of multi-tasking and hot-seating, which must have been difficult within the cramped crew compartment, which was at the rear of the vehicle. The engines were set in the centre of the hull, with the fuel at the front in an armoured tank, which although exposed to enemy fire meant that there was a safety margin between the conflagration and the crew if it was hit.

The Whippet's abilities were demonstrated well, even though it was late to the fray, but losses were quite high. There are a number of stories of derring-do by Whippet crews that demonstrate the British fighting spirit of the time as much as the tank's abilities, although it was of course vulnerable to shell fire due to the lack of heavy armour. After the war some were exported to Russia and Japan, and one even turned up in Germany as a mount for the Freikorps. The exported vehicles were reputed to still be in service in the 1930s.

The Kit
It's a long time since we've had a new kit of the Whippet in this scale, the only other being the old Emhar kit, which is fine as far as it goes, but suffers from "horrible track" syndrome and old-age. This is a complete new-tooling from Takom, following on from their Mark IV and Mark IV Tadpole kits that we reviewed recently. It carries on in the same vein providing a full exterior but no interior, and individual click-together track links, which should please most folks. It arrives in a slightly smaller box than the other kits, as you'd expect, and under the lid are seven sprues in mid-grey styrene, a small Photo-Etch (PE) brass fret, a bag of styrene track links in a mid-brown colour, small decal sheet, instruction booklet, and a separate concertina-fold painting & markings booklet that has been produced by Mig's AMMO for Takom. There is also a limited edition of 2025 boxes that includes a resin figure of a Japanese soldier saluting, a small sprue of Japanese machine guns, and some suitable decals. Where you'd get those from though, I have no idea, as the text around the pictorial information is all in Chinese/Japanese (I'm sorry I don't know the difference).

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As you'd expect the build begins with the running gear, which consists of a run of sixteen pairs of small wheels of four types, idler wheels and drive sprockets. The road wheels are built from two wheels with a short axle in between, while the rest are two-parts each. You will need to keep a watchful eye on each type to keep them separate during construction, and add them to the inner sponson part carefully, to ensure they're in the correct positions. They are glued in place, and are then joined by mud-shedding panels and the internal bulkheads top and bottom, plus a quartet of return rollers that are again paired wheels on a short axle. Before the glue sets on this assembly, you'd be wise to test-fit the outer sponson wall, as it will make any adjustments easier down the line. At this stage only the idler and drive sprocket will still spin in the sponson if you've been careful with the glue. The instructions then tell you to add ten small j-shaped hooks to the sides, but I'd leave those 'til later in case they get bent or lost. The same process is repeated in mirror image for the other side, with both hull sides having a line of track-grousers added, plus the engine louvers and exhausts for the engines.

The floor panel and fuel tank are built up next, and added between the inner walls of the sponsons along with a rear armoured bulkhead panel. The angled roof on the engine compartment and the asymmetric lower plate for the superstructure are glued on, followed by the bulged port wall to the crew compartment and the rear deck. The Hotchkiss MGs and their ball mounts are fitted to the sides of the crew compartment, and another fits to a small panel in the front, while the final mount is in the rear crew door, which seems a little ungainly if you are trying to exit in a hurry. The roof is added with an angled section at the front, a crew hatch on the top, and a PE strip along a prominent join, with the whole assembly placed on the top, closing the empty interior save for the rear door that can be posed open or closed. Two open-topped stowage compartments are attached to the rear corners of the hull, with PE bracing wires added to an eye bolted to the hull.

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The final act of construction (sounds a little religious!) is the making up of the track runs and fixing them to the hull. Each link has the tail of a sprue gate on the raised edge, which should be easy to remove cleanly, and a single ejector pin mark in the centre of the inside surface. Unless you are modelling your Whippet in a "tracks peeled-back" diorama state, you'll not need to remove these as they won't be seen. Happy days! Once you realise that the styrene is quite flexible they go together quickly, but take your time and don't force it.


Markings
Takom are usually quite generous with their decal options, and this kit is no exception, having a rather impressive eight in total, or nine in the special boxing. There are four British options with a variation on overall green with red/white identification stripes, while the Russian tanks are plain green with the appropriate symbols. The captured "beutepanzer" wears a three colour scheme, and the Freikorps a plain grey. From the box you can build one of the following:

  • British Whippet A321 near Acheiet-le-petit France, Aug 1918.
  • British Whippet A326 Biefvillers France, Aug 1918.
  • British Whippet A347 "Firefly" 6th Battalion Tank Corps. B Company, Amiens France, Aug 1918.
  • British Whippet A378 "Golikell" Irish Civil War, Dublin, Jan 1919.
  • German Beutepanzer A Repair No. 111 at Lieu-Saint-Armand training ground of the 17th Army, Sept 1918.
  • German Whippet in Freikorps service, Berlin, Jan 1919.
  • Russian Whippet in Red Army Service, 1920.
  • Russian Whippet in 2nd Tank Platoon White Army Service, 1920.

decals.jpg

There is also the Japanese option if you're one of the lucky ones, but other than the code A3390, and a serial of 4637 the rest is unintelligible to this reviewer. The decals are printed in-house, have good register, colour density and sharpness, with a thin, matt carrier film cut closely to the decal edges where possible. Based on past experience with Takom decals they should go down just fine.


Conclusion
It's a welcome release to any WWI modeller, which gives you all you need in the box, save for an interior that some might look out for from the aftermarket folks. The individual tracks are a huge positive because these old clunkers really did have an exaggerated faceted effect round the track ends, so rubber bands just wouldn't have cut it. The detail on the skin is good, and a lot of care has gone into the design to make it simple to construct. Perhaps this might make a good introduction to the joys of WWI armour modelling if you've ever been tempted by their quirkiness?

Very highly recommended.

Review sample courtesy of
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Great review Mike. Just to note, there's actually two Russian marking options included, one White army, one Red, although it isn't immediately obvious from the marking guide.

Andy

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That'll be why I missed it then! :doh: Corrected now, and it's not at all obvious due to them both being on the same page. The only clue is the difference in layout and the tiny wording on the left. Well done for spotting it! :)

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