by: Darren Baker [ ]
The Cromwell tank was possibly the best tank from the British during World War 2. I learnt recently that production of the Churchill tank was going to stop in favour of the Cromwell that was considered better, that was until some stunning successes in North Africa by the Churchill. The early Cromwell was armed with the 6pdr gun, but it was found in North Africa that the 75mm gun was better being able to fire High Explosive rounds as well as anti-tank rounds. In 1997 Tamiya released a 1/35th scale model of a Cromwell, a model that was very well received. So let’s take another look at this model from Tamiya as it looks today.
The model arrives in the standard Tamiya style packaging of a card tray and separate card lid. The sprues are provided in individual plastic bags with the exception of duplicated sprues and the decal sheet is also in one of these bags this approach has ensured that they have arrived as intended. The tub for the hull is loose in the box as are the tracks. There is a final bag that contains a mesh sheet, clear sprue, twine and poly caps. The instructions have been supplied in the fold out format and there is a separate sheet covering painting and decals. An examination of the sprues and contents generally reveals nothing of concern to me.
It is my understanding that the model as produced by Tamiya is accurate, but is an accurate representation of a Cromwell that saw limited service in Europe following D-Day. I do not consider this a major weakness as there are a great number of products available from the aftermarket manufacturers that enables the model to be built in a good number of variations; my choice for this has been Master Club, RB Model and Accurate Armour.
The lower hull is a robust part of the model and that is a positive as it greatly reduces the risks of bends and bows being present. There is a moulding spur on the underside that should be removed and there are also quite a lot of other details present in that location, but I cannot comment on the accuracy. The suspension arms are separate but not workable, but with a little forward planning they can be set at an angle that you prefer if displaying on an uneven surface. The sides of the lower hull as well as the front and rear have been supplied as separate parts and that has allowed some very nice detail to be presented. The wheels look good to me having detail on both faces. I know that many modellers are not fans but I like that the wheels have poly caps in them as it allows for removal when painting and weathering. The tracks supplied are vinyl rubber that while having a reasonable level of detail I would look at the aftermarket companies. Tamiya has offered the Avon tyres that are solid in this kit and these are late war additions. The perforated tyres should ideally be sourced for a model depicted during World War 2 as they were commonly seen right up to wars end.
The upper hull is also a robust moulding and that is a good thing as it is this area that can have a number of alterations from the engine deck through to the right hand crew hatch where a ‘Vauxhall hatch can be added from aftermarket providers. If you make no other changes to this model please locate a set of photo etched screens rather than using the mesh net provided with the model. Scratched guards for the lights would also be an easily tackled improvement. The hull mounted BESA machine gun is offered as a full moulding and RB model offer a replacement brass barrel if desired.
The main gun for this model has been provided in two halves and as such I again would look to RB Model for a replacement, especially as the RB Model barrel is a direct replacement. I do know and have seen some very well done plastic half barrels, but I just feel that this is so much easier and the price is low for the RB Model offering. Tamiya has provided a full if somewhat simple breech for the main gun that as least provides something inside the turret. The BESA machine gun is again well replicated and more easily changed if the modeller desires to do so. I have done some digging on if a canvas should be added over the gun mantlet and it would appear to be a 50/50 situation going from period photographs.
Looking at the turret and Tamiya has provided all of the side panels as individual parts and that has enabled a very good level of detail to be present. This means that the large bolt detail is well defined and placed on the panels. The commander’s cupola is the old single periscope type and so could do with some work. You could put your scratch building to the test or purchase a direct replacement from Accurate Armour. All of the hatches have been provided as separate items and I was very pleased to see the padding replicated on the interior faces of the hatches. A searchlight has been provided on the left side of the turret and it has been given a clear lens, the modeller will need to remember to add a power cable for this element as that detail is not replicated.
A full length figure has been provided with this model that despite its age is a reasonable offering in all respects. The tow cable has been provided with plastic moulded ends that the twine is then glued to. I suggest that rather than used the provided string seek out a suitable wire to use instead. Tamiya has also shown the tow cable in a stowed position on the right side of the hull, in reality the tow cable was more often stowed on the hull front; I believe this was in order that it could be brought into use more quickly.
Two optional; parts are included with this offering in the form of a ‘Normandy Cowling’ and a ‘Hedge row cutter’. The items provided with the model are too perfect in my opinion as it is my understanding that both of these items were replicated in the field. The Normandy Cowling was as I understand it made from sheet metal such as cut up oil barrels, Its purpose was to prevent fumes being sucked into the crew compartment and making the crew ill, it also saved anyone riding on the vehicle from the hot fumes. I have seen someone saying that the mesh should be removed if the cowling is in place, but as this is a field mod I expect that is incorrect. The hedge cutters were made from Hedgehog barriers and so would look very rough and ready.
I really like this model offering from Tamiya as it presents the modeller with so many options when it comes to finishing if willing to spend some extra pennies. I have never heard of anyone having issues with assembly of the base model, and let’s be honest most Tamiya kits go together cleanly. The detail overall is good and accurate for a limited level of accurate as regards use in Europe during World War 2. I detest twine being used to replicate tow cables and would replace it. I would also at a minimum get photo etch grill covers and a turned metal main barrel.