Building the Emhar Whippet Tank in 1/35
THE MEDIUM Mk.A TANK - THE WHIPPET:
During WWI, a light "chaser" type tank fast enough to exploit breakthroughs made by heavier armor was needed by Britain. They had set out to improve their existing machines, as well as design a new light tank. The result- the Medium A (or Whippet) based on the prototype "Tritton Chaser", Britain's, as well as the world's, second production tank. It started down the assembly line in October of 1917, and was first used in battle March 26th, 1918, during the great German offensive. They are most remembered for their role in August of that year at Amiens when 96 Whippets were assigned to the Cavalry Corps, earning it the simile of "Cavalry Tank", and demonstrating that the days of the unarmored vehicle had passed. However, the Whippet did have its disadvantages. For instance, it was powered by two 45-hp Tylor gasoline engines, each running one track through its own transmission and clutch. Controlling the tank using the awkward controls and unreliable drive train was no easy feat, requiring coordination and strength to turn the vehicle without stalling an engine. Also, the small armored gas tank limited the Whippet's range to only 40 miles, which was not good for a tank which was meant to penetrate far into enemy lines. After the war as many as possible of the 200 produced were sold to other countries. Despite its problems, though, the Whippet was considered a moderate success.
The hull is made up of a few pieces which, with a little trimming and sanding, will go together fairly well. You'll want them to fit as well as possible because doing body work around the bolts and rivets is tedious! More on body work later. I started by setting the sides on the base plate and tacking them in place with Zap-A-Gap (be sure to get them pressed up against the locator bars). I then dry fit the front, rear, and central bulkheads to adjust the sides to the correct positions, and ran liquid cement into insides of the seams. When this had dried, I attached the interior floor and engine hatch. Before going on, I made sure that the guns and retainers had been trimmed and painted steel so that they would be ready to install in the hull plates. Getting these in place once the battle compartment is closed up would be difficult! The remaining plates were then trimmed and glued in place as well as the inside track covers since they seemed easier to manage now than with the track boxes built up.
To solve the problem of body work, a thin line of the thickest paint I could find was run down the seams, as well as corners of other plates. This not only hides the seam, but makes it look like weld lines. Be sure, though, that you don't "weld" the engine hatches and doors closed. I used some old pink acrylic in a Testors jar, but any garish color that you want to use will be fine! Some seams took more than one coat of paint, but be sure not to overdo it; you only want to cover the seam and make it look like weld lines, not put a chain of mountains along the edges. Total time for the weld lines was just over an hour of non-stop work.
Now the hull was given a shot of primer, which was also the color used for the final coat. There has been some debate on the color of the Whippet; some say it was grayish, some say brownish, some say greenish. All the arguments I heard regarding the colors were well supported, but I decided to go with the greenish overall color.
After this had dried, I looked for any flaws or missed seams that needed fixing. None were found, so I attached the forward subassembly as well as the rear structure. These were left off until after the primer coat so that the camoflauge color would be present in these hard to reach places. Both fit well without the need for major body work. Now the drive gears and rollers were put into place. This is fairly tedious, as first you have to assemble 10 roller assemblies made up of two wheels and a shaft, plus the sets of main drive wheels (though they don't take long to assemble). Keeping the pieces in place while trying to attach the outer track cover is difficult, however. None of them want to stay in their locating holes while gluing, so you'll have to tack them in place with some glue (super glue, probably) and work quickly to get the boxes together and keep the rollers from setting up crooked. It takes a little work, but isn't that major of a problem since these rollers can't be seen anyways.
Everything that needed the green was given the green, so once all this was together, no additional painting was needed. Now the fun part: weathering! Tank weathering is probably the most fun, because you can really go overboard with rust and dirt. The "clean" tank was first given a fairly heavy black wash, and when this had set up completely was drybrushed with a lighter version of the base color to bring out the details. Next, pastel powder rust stains were applied to the tank streaking from hatches, gun ports, and rivets.
The flexible plastic tracks were now assembled, painted medium gray, and given a black wash. When dry, they were attached to the tank- centered on the top and glued in place with Zap-A-Gap. I left them off until now so that weathering the hull would be easier; give the hull a layer of flat coat so that when attaching the tracks you won't smudge that work. The tracks were then wrapped around the boxes where they fit relatively well, except around the forward and rear ends. The tracks don't fit completely flush, but a look at pictures shows that the real ones didn't either. About half a link's length had to be removed from the tracks to get them to fit without huge gaps at the ends. The tracks were weathered using grayish/brownish pastels applied heavily by hand, with the excess being gently blown off. A final coat of flat varnish sealed all this in.
I decided not to apply decals, or rather, forgot about them until too late (when the weathering was already done). Decals should go on right after overall painting. But there may have been unmarked Whippets out in the fields. And I think it looks pretty good without markings.
Well, as my first tank kit, I think it came out pretty good! This kit may just be enough to spark a new interest in armor modeling; I really enjoyed building it. I would probably recommend this kit to slightly advanced modelers, since it does take some work to get it to go together well. Serious armor modelers will love detailing it out, adding individual track links, photo-etched or scratchbuilt vents and hatches, an interior, etc. Plenty of projects come to mind with this model!
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