Vickers Medium Mk II tank

This short post will give a few details on a distinctive Interwar era tank used by the British army – the Vickers Medium Mk II tank. There are a few internet based sites with info but here we bring together some details related to the 1936 time period to give you an idea about this  unique looking vehicle at the time of The Abyssinian Crisis.

The Vickers tank, introduced in 1923, represented a significant jump in design concept and execution compared to British designs of the Great War. Featuring sprung suspension, a fully rotating turret and compartmentalised engine the design was quite lightly armoured (6-8mm all over) and really only designed to be proof against rifle calibre weapons as no true anti-tank gun threat was then developed.

Underpowered resulting in a top speed of 13-15mph, the crew consisted of Commander, Gunner, Driver, Radio Operator and Loader. By the time of The Abyssinian Crisis (1936) the vehicle layout had a turret equipped 3pdr gun with coaxial mounted Hotchkiss machine gun, along with one left/right hull side mounted Vickers machine-guns. Numerous variants had a mix of Hotchkiss and Vickers machining-guns which can be confusing, however, for the Mk II tanks in Egypt, they are as described here.

The 6th Battalion, Royal Tank Corps, was formed in Egypt in 1933 and was equipped with ‘tropicalised’ MkII tanks with better ventilation, heat insulation and asbestos plated. This battalion was supplemented by the 1st battalion RTC was also dispatched from the UK to bolster the Egyptian defences because of Italy’s build up in Africa. Complementing the battalion were Carden Lloyd Carriers and Rolls Royce 1924 pattern armoured cars. The vehicles were painted in a desert camouflage pattern of BS.52 Pale Cream and BS.46 Red Oxide disruptive pattern coloration.

6 RTC in Egypt, Vickers Mark II

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Here’s a short video giving a nice run through of the vehicle.

Abyssinian Armoured Field Force -Vickers tank

 

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An interesting shot of the Ethiopian 7TP tanks before delivery

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Following on from my brief description of the Vickers tank in the last post, I’ve knocked up a Vickers twin-turret ‘6-toner’ to supplement the Abyssinian Armoured Field Force tank pool. Its been sitting on the desk for a while and now seems a good time to get it done!

This vehicle, equipped with twin MGs should prove to be a handful for the Italians unless they have some ‘heavy hitter’ artillery in tow as this vehicle is well suited to anti-infantry operations in Ethiopia.

So, without further ado here are some snaps (and comments) of the paint job and a final review by the Emperor himself!

 

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The model is the Warlord Games Twin-turreted Polish 7TP tank.

In keeping with the backstory of the Abyssinian Armoured Field Force, this particular model was made on the production run of Polish twin-turret Vickers tanks built from March 1935. A ‘few extra’ rolled off the production line and found their way to Addis Ababa instead of Warsaw…

There are a few of these vehicle models around but this one does the job nicely and ‘fits’ my backstory as well! The colours shown are the base and top coat colours. I went for the quasi-Polish camo scheme replacing the red-brown with a dark-brown which is a paint colour variation I have seen for these Polish tanks. This fits in nicely with Emperor Haile Selassie mandated edict about foreign vehicle camouflage and markings…and I like the colour scheme!

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Here you can see the bottom colours on. The whole model was first given a coat of the dark brown, followed by the green and then base yellow colour. The application was a simple ‘stipple brush’ method, nothing to particular, just done to please the eye and give the general look of it all.

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Once those base colours have dried it a simple matter of adding the top colours being careful to leave an edge around each colour to provide a ‘shaded edge’ effect on the model. I find this method very simple and effective to give a shaded look to the model without going into the whole airbrushing technique and all that. I think at eye distance it nicely ‘pops’ on table as well, using this method.

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Final touch ups were to paint the tracks using a dark and mid grey highlight…done! I have at this point put the open hatch in the down position (using a blob of blu-tac underneath to secure it) and when I get a suitable crew member painted up I’ll pop him in for a slightly more Ethiopian look.

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Inspection by Emperor Haile Selassie and high command.

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…a closer look…I may go back and highlight the rivet work with some ink as the interwar ‘rivet look’ is part of the appeal…

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…not sure if the Turkish officer is going to be of much help here but one officer would appear to be studiously taking the Emperor’s notes so all shall be well!

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So, there you go, a nice quirky interwar tank that one can easily include in the Abyssinian Crisis story which should give Benny’s boys more than a bit of a surprise the next time they run up against the Ethiopians.

 

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Vickers 6-ton tank

The Ethiopians were the beneficiaries of taking into service a small number of the highly successful export tank design by Vickers, the Mark E light tank, commonly referred to as the ‘6-tonner’.

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Vickers 6-tonner in Abyssinian colors

This three man light tank was developed as a private venture, ultimately being rejected by the British due to concerns about the arrangement of the unique leaf spring bogie suspension system. It was well received however by many foreign buyers proving a popular seller due to its simple, mechanically sound design and quite affordable price tag. It inherently embodied the elements of a good tank, remaining in production for a decade, seeing service right up to the Second World War and beyond.

In The Abyssinian Crisis the Type A Vickers 6-tonner finds its way into service with the Abyssinian Armoured Field Force. These vehicles were shipped from England along with their trained Ethiopian crews, being equipped with dual Vickers machine guns, which were to prove quite effective as only Italian artillery was capable of taking it on.

The 6-tonner is an excellent vehicle to bolster the Ethiopian Regular Army or Imperial Guard Forces, with which it was most associated.

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Here’s a short video giving a nice run through of the vehicle.