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.

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British Manual interwar period

 

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Gents,

Whilst putting together the information for The Abyssinian Crisis, real world manuals were consulted. Some of note that players will find useful for historical research are those of the British Army of the interwar period.

Here is the 1934 edition section leaders regulations. The book to have however is ‘Field Service Regulations 1935 Vol. II’ which is the platoon, company & battalion leaders’ bible.

Also there is Infantry Training, Training & War from 1937 which should prove very useful.
Whilst not so relevant to our needs for The Abyssinian Crisis, it is interesting all the same. It’s the Australian edition actually, which is a nice touch from this kangaroo!
FSR Vol III, which deals with high level formations is added for completeness.
All these manuals are very important documents for players interested in the British Army of the interwar period.

Shapeways 1/56 Vickers Mk IIA tank

 

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British Vickers MK IIb (Indian Pattern)

 

Gents,

For those that have been following the design and development of a number of vehicles for use in the interwar by our man Fritz on the Lead Adventure Forum (Interwar period) the tanks have finally arrived!

So, as promised, here is a bit of a review and ‘paint up’ of one of the vehicles….the first 1/56 Indian Pattern Mk IIb in the solar system!..I hope no one beat me to it!  😉

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When you get the Shapeways stuff it comes in a lovely big box and weighs absolutely nothing! I was surprised the packaging was done this way but the products inside were completely protected. They came out looking like this…

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The models I got were a selection, so to give you an idea of what they are this is the lists;

Looking at the models in more detail we have some pics below…comments to follow…I’ll leave the Mk IIb ‘review’ until last to show you the ‘paint up’.

(Sorry about the pic quality but I think they are good enough to impart the important aspects of the review).

 

L3 Tankette w/Solothurn ATR (28mm)

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OK, starting with our Italian friends, I got an L3 with 20mm Solothurn gun..for WW2.

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Here you see the vehicle compared to the Empress Miniatures tank. The size is comparable and I have no problem mixing them in the same table space. The model is a nice crisp ‘print’ and the gun barrel, whilst a little ‘bendy’, straightens out pretty easily.

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As you can see, this model fits in pretty well and I’m happy with that one…tick!

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Carden Loyd Mk VI (28mm)

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Next up is the little Carden Loyd Mk VI carrier. This is the MMG mount and has the covered compartments. Not quite the Carrier I was after but AFAIK there are no other MMG mounted carriers like this. I like this one and if I can get uncovered carriers that would be good. Crew would be the only issue there as they’d be open topped or maybe they could be included in the model…still, they may be able to be found and for the price are possibly worth it.

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Crocodile APC (1/56)

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Changing pace slightly, this troop carrying Crocodile vehicle is for my Rhodesian Bush Wars project. This is a handsome model and I’m very pleased with the look of the Croc. I think it certainly fits the bill and will see good service in Rhodesia…nice…this opens up some very interesting possibilities.

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Vickers Light Mk.III (1/56th)

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These two are the Vickers Light Mk.III. The pic below shows a bit more detail. Overall the quality of the print gives a good level of detail and these two look the part. They are are very clean  models and as you can see they come in the black print, not white, in my attempt to ‘pre undercoat’ the tank before painting..that was the idea (more on that below).

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Light Mk.IIb (Indian Pattern) 28mm

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Here you can see the Vickers Indian Pattern Mk IIb…the subject of the ‘build’ for this post. Looking at the picture the most obvious and immediate  point of note is the texture of the model. The black print texture gives a slightly grainy feel and finish to the ‘polyamide’. This was always my first concern as to how this would paint up and how I could perhaps seal it or prepare it properly to paint.

You can see the model has nice detail. Not super levels of detail but certainly enough to reflect the vehicle and all its salient parts in this scale – no problems here, the model for wargaming is definitely detailed enough and looks the part.

 

 

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Here is a Woodbine 28mm figure inspecting the tank. As one expects of the interwar period light tanks are quite small…love ’em!

 

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Here you can really see the grainy finish. It look ugly and you think you couldn’t get it to work or at least you’d have to compromise. It’s “White, Strong & Flexible material.”  in my case, ‘Black, Strong & Flexible’ material. So the interesting question will be…how will this look with paint applied?

Looking to paint it up ASAP I didn’t even do an internet search on how to ‘prep’ this stuff. If I had then the first thing I would’ve discover is that the material soaks up paint..it really soaks up paint!

No problem, I’ll learn my own lessons.  This model is a ‘tester’ anyway…hopefully she’ll look the part once complete.

So not preparing the models was my first mistake but in the end I think it was OK (which you shall see). However the smarter folks , and me next time, will properly undercoat the vehicle to seal it to prevent all the paint absorption that the material is so good at. I believe a standard flat acrylic matte varnish will seal it and some say Future floor polish to – i tried both as a tester on another model and varnish seems like the go. Google around and you’ll find a number of ways to do it…I’ll try this next time.

Launching straight into painting on the black material I settled for the Foundry triad for this model – basic Sand 10A/B/C.

 

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The good thing about the black is that it absolutely gets into every corner and makes sure the model parts are all black. The track, wheel returns, under the mudguard…everywhere it’s black. So that is a benefit of this colour as a base coat for your model. Obviously some models in white might work better but for this vehicle I would’ve undercoated black anyway.

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The underneath of the model shows it is hollow. If you prefer a bit of weight in the model it’d be easy enough to glue a metal bolt inside.

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The first coat of paint shows you why you need to undercoat the model or I should say ‘seal it’. The paint is readily absorbed and I had to put a second coat which you can see below. The irregular pattern shows the nature of the white material it’s made off.

One side effect of this absorption process I found is that depending on how concentrated you put the paint on it gives a kind of ‘shading or weathering effect’ as the paint blends and absorbs into the material…unusual, and I worked this to advantage around the wheels and track area so it wasn’t all bad!

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In this shot I thinned the paint and let it run over the model, absorbing as it went. The water soaked into the vehicle and thus the second coat gave a more even and solid colour overall. This is still the base coat colour (10A).

Once this was dry, which took a little while as the absorbed paint had to dry, not just the surface paint which is usual on any other plastic or metal surface, the next shade levels were applied- model coat (10B) and final highlight (10C).

Once I had done the final highlighting the problem I found was that with a dry brush the grainy effect was highlighted! This is not what I was after. I think the detail had also been washed away so I needed to find that detail again.

Therefore I got the Devlin Mud ink wash and suitably watered-down I covered the entire vehicle in it which then had the effect of highlighting not only detail but some of the grainy effect as well! It wasn’t too bad but was a little noticeable.

Ok…how to fix that! What I decided to so was use a style that paints in the panel and leaves the shading around the detail. This would give the model some shade and depth and hide the grainy effect which, to be fair, wasn’t that noticeable by now. The advantage of this is they absorbing effect made the wearing and shading around the detailed bolts and panel lines all blend rather well.

So once that was done, the tracks were blacked in, the extractor painted a red-brown and and an antenna popped on the back. All very quick and easy to do.

…with that, the finished model!

Final tip – though these pics don’t show it (as I did it later), if you get a fine black pen and line the details around the running gear and other parts on the model it helps ‘pop’ the panels out and it makes it that much more effective at showing the model at its best…easy to do.

 

In summation , barring the trials of working with the new moulded medium the model is excellent. If you seal the model it will be easier to work with and if a little bit of absorption occurs my advice is, don’t fight it, make it work for you. The effect is much more subtle and the final model looks really good on table, slightly weathered and shaded. The grainy effect is barely if at all noticeable and the whole interwar era of how tanks were made kind of makes up for some of these imperfections in my opinion…it all just works for me.

The model is great and no one else makes it…it is a must buy for the British interwar army and can be used in the early stages of WW2. The Australian and South Africans used them and this fella shall be seeing of Italian and Germans alike in the future! The pricing is pretty damned competitive too so there really are no negatives here.

Finally, a big round of applause for Fritz who modelled this vehicle in no time and filled a much need gap in the interwar arsenal of His Majesty’s Army. Well done that man!

 

Highly Recommend.

(Note – the size these appear on screen is more or less the size they are on table. They look very effective and the my fast paint job certainly doesn’t show them at their best. Don’t let my quick paint job put you off…these are fine wargaming models…)

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