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Tamiya - Matilda Mk.III/IV British Infantry Tank Mk IIA*

Catalog Number: 32572 Manufacturer: Tamiya
Published: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 Retail Price: $37.00 USD
Scale: 1:48 Reviewed By:

Matilda Mk.III/IV

Tamiya continues to add to their line of 1/48 armored vehicles.  As far as I know, this is the first time the Matilda II has been kitted in 1/48 scale.  Combining the well-known Tamiya quality engineered parts and level of detail, these kits are a joy to build, and with a little application of AMS, they can be turned into award winning models.

Originally known as the “Infantry Tank A 12,” the Matilda II was armed with a 2 pounder anti-tank cannon and a coaxial machine gun.  Designed by the British military in 1939 to accompany the infantry in an assault to engage enemy tanks, the Matilda had a top speed of 15 miles per hour and was well armored for the time.  This heavy armor came as a shock to the German army at the battle of Arris in France in the summer of 1940 where their standard 37mm anti-tank guns failed to knock out the handful of Matilda IIs that were engaged.  During the campaigns in the Western desert against the Italians was when the Matilda gained its nickname the “Queen of the desert” due to its difficulty to be knocked out.  The arrival of the Africa Corps with its more modern anti-tank artillery along with the dreaded Flak 88 put an end to the Matilda’s dominance on the battlefield.  The Matilda evolved through four marks with a total of almost 3000 completed before production stopped in 1942.  Russia received almost 1000 through lend lease.  The Australian army used Matildas in its fight against the Japanese in the Pacific up to V-J day, making it the only British tank design to be employed for all of WW II.

Marketed as a Matilda Mk.III/IV, the main external differences between the two marks were the deletion of the commander’s lamp on the turret cupola and the change to a low rise commander’s cupola towards the end of the Mk.IV production run.

What’s in the Box?

My sample arrived with seven plastic sprues each sealed in a plastic bag and all packed in a sturdy cardboard box.  Also, inside were two metal weights, a painting guide, and a comprehensive instruction booklet.  A length of cotton string for tow cables and a sheet of decals rounded out the box contents.  My sample had no flash or short shots on the crisply molded plastic parts.  The 2 pounder gun barrel and the smoke dischargers even came cast with their respective ends open!

Now, on to the pictures of the naked plastic:

Box contents 

Sprues A and P, two included

Sprue B 

Sprue  C 

String, poly caps, and weights 

Decal sheet 

Instruction sheet and Painting guide

Let’s build a Matilda!

Steps 1 through 6 involved assembling the lower hull, suspension, and tracks.  Tamiya has done away with the cast metal lower hull found in its earlier 1/48 scale kits but includes two steel weights to give the tank some heft.  As with most Tamiya kits, the fit was great with only a few mold seam lines to be cleaned up with a few swipes of a sanding stick.  I left the tracks off as I will need to do some prepainting of the lower hull before attaching them and the side skirts.

Lower hull and running gear

Steps 7 through 9 concentrated on assembling the upper hull and adding the distinctive air louvers to the rear deck.  I left off the tools and spare track links until after painting was complete.

Step 10 focused on assembling the external fuel tank and the dual exhaust mufflers.  I replaced the fuel tank molded on handles with brass rod bent to shape.  In addition, I puttied and sanded the seams on the exhaust although the seams would be hard to see once the mufflers are installed and weathered.  I also drilled out the fuel tank cap to accept a bit of wire to replicate the fuel line that ran from the fuel tank down to the rear lower hull.

External fuel tank improvements 

Step 11 involved installing the upper return rollers to the inside of the hull armored skirts.

Steps 12 and 15 focused on constructing and installing the twin tow cables.  My personal feeling was that the channel molded in the cable ends were too shallow to accept the string without the string standing proud of the cable end.  However, after super gluing the string to the cable ends, I was able to sand the cables down to a more realistic diameter.  A lot of period photos showed these cables missing on the actual tanks, so it is up to the modeler to use them or not.

Steps 13 and 14 finished up the lower hull assembly with the installation of the exhaust system and spare fuel tank.  Also, the side armored skirts were attached.  Topping off step 14 was the assembly and installation of the front hull headlights, each of which were made up of three crisply cast parts.  These parts were delicate and really well molded and showed the level of detail now attainable by modern mold injection means.  I stippled on a coat of thinned Tamiya Surface Primer on the cast sections of the front hull to better capture their rough surface as seen in photographs.

Lower hull ready for paint 

Steps 16 through 19 concentrated on the turret.  In step 16, the modeler needed to open up holes in the turret to match the version of Matilda being constructed.  There are up to nine holes to be drilled out so pay attention to the version being built.  The holes were, well marked on the inside of the turret, but given the small inner diameter of the turret, it was impossible to get a drill level from the inside.  By holding the turret shell up to my bench light, I was able to mark each hole with a marker on the outside and then drill them out with a drill bit in a hand drill.  I found this solution to be very easy and had all my holes drilled out in about five minutes.  I also replaced the loader’s hatch molded on handle with one fashioned from brass wire.

Loaders hatch handle improvement

Step 17 involved assembling the turret mantlet and trunnions along with the 2 pdr and co axe MG.  I did not glue the 2 pdr into the mantlet as it fit firmly, in my opinion.  However, this decision came back to bite me in the toucus when I was painting the tank and the gun barrel flew into no man’s land off my porch deck.  I replaced it with a section of brass tubing cut to length.  It was not a perfect replacement, but it was as close as I could get it.  From now on no matter how snugly they fit, I will always glue my parts – lesson learned!

Steps 18 and 19 focused on installing all the bits and bobs (Hey, it is a British tank after all) to the outside of the turret.  The turret hatches can be displayed open and came with their distinctive pistons on the inner cupola that supported the hatch lids – a nice touch.  I wanted to show them off so I chose to use the supplied tank commander figure.  The tank commander was depicted in the distinctive British tank corps beret talking into a handset.  After some seam clean up, a passable figure was ready to be painted and installed in the open hatch.  (A note on the figure, some gents at our AMPS monthly meeting felt he is too small for 1/48 scale.  I have not done any scale comparison on it, so I will leave that to the inch/rivet counters.)

Turret "Bits and Bobs" 

Step 20 concentrated on installing the turret to the lower hull and attaching the driver’s rear view mirror.  I used a small piece of reflective sticker to replicate the mirror surface.  Again, similar to the tow cables, this mirror was missing in a lot of Matilda photos so its inclusion is up to the modeler.

Painting and Finishing!

The kit came with three marking choices – two for desert Matildas and one for a tank in England.  The two desert schemes were in the “Caunter” scheme, which I personally find a hard scheme to mask and paint correctly.  On my bench, I have a 1/35 Crusader I that I have painted and stripped three times so far in this scheme, so I was not looking forward to trying it in 1/48 scale.  This left the version of a Matilda from the 49th Royal Tank Regiment painted in a disruptive camouflage pattern.

I followed the kit’s color recommendations and painted the whole tank with Tamiya XF 52 Flat Earth as the base color.  For the disruptive color, I used the instructions’ recommendation of a mix of four parts XF 52 to one part XF 1 Flat Black.  This color mix was applied to areas left unmasked by silly putty to obtain the wavy line hard edge camo effect.  I did some further research after the paint was applied (isn’t this the way it always happens?).  I think a closer match would have been to use the mix as the base color with flat black as the disruptive camo color, but this is only my interpretation.

After a coat of Future, I applied the decals, and they went on fine with just a bit of Super Sol needed around the turret side lift rings.  All the markings were in register and not opaque.  This was followed by another light coat of Future to seal them to the paint work so they would not be affected by the weathering to follow.

I applied a wash of odorless mineral spirits mixed with Raw Umber oil paint.  Nooks and crannies along with panel lines and recessed screws received a couple of pin washes with the same mixture to pop out their detail.  The mufflers received a mix of burnt sienna paint and rust colored pigments, while the asbestos wrapped exhaust pipes got a coat of Tamiya XF-57 Buff.  I then sealed the tank with a couple of light coats of a mixture of Future and X 21 Tamiya Flat Base.  As I was building this tank for this review, I will do further weathering when I install my Matilda on a base in the future.

Yeah my figures eyes look like a raccoon, I'm working on it! 


Pros:  Great molded detail for this scale, No construction gotchas during assembly, Suitable for a wide range of modelers from novice to master, Different turret stowage configurations, I definitely would build another.

Cons:  Some molded on handles, Chunky tow cables, No alternative parts to depict low profile commander’s cupola of later Mk.IVs, Limited decal options.

Highly Recommended.

Thanks to Tamiya America for the review sample.

Frank Berkley-Yokie

Central Maryland AMPS