Britsh Infantry Tank Mark IV
|Italeri Kit # 7019
Esci Kit # 8332,8049,8339
|Preview by Stephen 'Tank
Whisperer' Brezinski - sbrez1(at)comcast(dot)net
Edited by Rob Haelterman
With the new release of Dragon’s Churchill Mark IV tank I think it would be good to get to know the older 1/72 scale Churchill tank releases. The Italeri release, as many know, was first released by ESCI company back in the 1980s, I think. At the time it was one of the best 1/72-scale AFV kits available. So now let us see if it stands up to the detail and accuracy sought after in 2011.
The Infantry Tank Churchill was a slow, heavily armored tank, heavily influenced by the trench warfare of World War 1. What’s that adage about an army always preparing for the previous war? The ESCI/Italeri Churchill Mk III served with the Canadians at Dieppe, in Italy, Western Europe, and on the Eastern Front in service with the Soviets. It is characterized by having a welded hexagonal turret, 6-Pounder main gun and bow mounted machine gun.
There are a plethora of Churchill variants and upgrades and “Funnies” conversions we can model. This Churchill Mk III served from 1942 till the war’s end with various upgrades including additional armor and a 75-mm gun.
Please note that the part numbers I refer to in this review are for the ESCI instructions and may not match the part numbers for the Italeri re-release.
A true Churchill Mk VII has a redesigned
hull and turret with integral thicker armor, armed by the 75-mm gun
with muzzle break, and has a round escape hatch on the side. Those
wanting a more correct Churchill Mk VII should try the Leva
#72C05 or Model Trans Modellbau #MT72068 conversion sets.
We don’t see much of the turret roof but the slab sided welded turret is plain to see. The gun is the 6-pounder (57-mm) characterized with no muzzle break. At the bow is the single towing ring and the driver’s plate with a Besa machine gun. On the hull side is the rectangular side escape hatch and towing cable. The suspension is unique and complicated for a tank of the 1940s. There are 11 small steel roadwheels which I don’t think the artist got quite right: The twin roadwheels are too close together; to put it simple each wheel should sit on a ridge akin to railroad wheels on railroad tracks. Hanging down from the very rear and front of the track guards are rubber or fabric pieces which I understand are to inhibit dust clouds.
The Churchill is painted in a pale olive brown
color. What is unusual is that there are no unit markings or vehicle
number visible. Except for the missing vehicle markings it looks like
a pretty accurate depiction of a Churchill Mk III tank, appearing
in March of 1942.
A little bit of interesting trivia is that the British periscopes on the hull and turret were copied by the Soviets for use on their tanks.
The ESCI/Italeri Kit Parts
At far left and right are the hull sides (parts
1 and 15) with the 11 attached all-steel roadwheels. The driver and
radio-operator hatches are molded shut. Grab handles, handtools, spare
track and the long tow cables are molded into the hull top and sides;
unfortunately, this was standard for the time this kit was first released.
At bottom right is a single mediocre crew figure with an oversize
head. At bottom left are the exterior fuel drum (parts 13, 16 &
17), which I believe should not be mounted when the tank is in actual
For a nice assembly review of this Churchill AMRCR kit see John Kelley’s article at Cybermodeler website.
The polyethylene band tracks are what I believe was first offered by ESCI, have mediocre detail, but are too stiff to wrap around the sprocket and idler wheels and the material defies most glues I know so the ends must be heated and melted together. I have managed successfully to work with these tracks though; first measure the locations where the track should bend around the sprockets and idlers, wrap these areas around a wood dowel and immerse the track and dowel into hot water (not boiling) till it holds the curved shape.
I understand the styrene link & length tracks are what are in Italeri’s re-release of the Churchill model. Compared to the band tracks these have better exterior detail but no interior side detail like the link hinges and the low track guide teeth. Since the top run of tracks is covered by the long track guard and hull sides we could leave off large sections of the track and use the extra track as appliqué armor on the tank?
At bottom center is a small etched brass fret from Eduard that I do not believe is in production anymore. So far I have not yet found any currently available etched brass detail sets for the 1/72 scale Italeri or Hasegawa Churchill kits.
Model Trans offers a plethora of cast resin conversions for the Italeri kit, such as wading trunks, the Churchill AVRE, a Crocodile conversion, etc. I don’t yet have any of the Model Trans conversions for the Churchill tank but I have known Model Trans sets to be well cast and detailed.
MR Models, Armorscale and RB Models offer 1/72 turned aluminum gun barrels for the Italeri Churchill, also suitable for the Dragon and Hasegawa Churchill tanks and other WW2 British tanks.
THE CHURCHILL TANK, by Brent Perrett, Osprey Publishing Ltd. (1980). ISBN 0 85045 340 2
BRITISH AND AMERICAN TANKS OF WORLD WAR TWO 1933-1945, by Peter Chamberlain and Chris Ellis, Cassell & Co., (1969). ISBN 0-304-35529-1
http://www.armourinfocus.co.uk Chris Shillito’s website on Allied armor.