Thursday, 9 October 2014

Winstons Wonder Weapon

The Mk.I tank

The 'tank' is really an invention of British in the first world war aimed to break the stalemate created on the muddy battlefields on western Europe. For it's development the landships committee was founded by Winston Churchill( yes indeed THE Winston Churchill ). Development began in 1915 with the first tanks appearing on the battlefield in 1916. 'Tank' was the codename for the vehicle, suggesting the development was aimed at water transport vehicles, the name never disappeared. The Mk.I was the first tank to rumble on the battlefield in a canon armed 'male' version or machinegun armed 'female' version. Many improvements could be made though. The Mk.I was vulnerable to fire of heavy riffles, it couldn't steer very well, the cabin became very hot and was to noisy for the eight men crew to hear each other. The fuel tank was located high in the vehicle so when the it was hit by a rifle fuel littered over the interior, crew and hot engine with a great risk of being ignited. Also these tanks are famous for getting stuck in the mud but this has to be relativated a bit. Before the tank there was noting able to get over the trenches and effectively support infantry. A tank was able to drive over the trenches in maybe half a minute, but with aircraft and infantry the trenches where unbridgeable gaps. The arrival of the Americans was a pivotal change in WWI but the tank employed a very important, often unappreciated, role as well. But when this tank entered the battlefield a lot had to be learned. The development of the original 'tank' led to a Mk.II and Mk.III version which where quite similar. Larger changes where implemented in the Mk.IV. Eventually the Mk.V from 1917 was last version of this specific tank and the Mk.V was really 'advanced' compared to the Mk.I, the same goes for the strategies developed for employing tanks. Mk.I's where converted to supply tanks, sort of turning them into the thing the codename 'tank' meant. This sounds a bit dull but don't forget this is World War I and there are barely any motorised transport vehicles, most of the stuff had to be moved to the battle field by horses, so this was a very important application of tanks too.

The masterbox model

Masterbox released two models of the MK.I, a male version (kit no. 720001 ) and a female (kit no. 720002 )in January of this year. The model has a few photo etched parts most noticeable the mesh for the top of the tank.

This was meant to deflect grenades but was removed from the Mk.II versions onward. The same goes for the auxiliary steering wheels in the back of the tank. This turned out to work counter productive and hinder manoeuvring instead of helping it. But this is the Mk.I and all these parts are here. The fit of the parts is quite perfect as is the detail. The only weak point are the places where the sprue of the track parts contact those parts, the tracks are deformed here. I placed my model in a diorama and of course there was a lot of mud on those tracks so the deformations can't be seen.