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.

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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