With the centenary of the First World War we have seen some long dreamed of kits finally rumble into reality. Takomís 1/35 scale renditions of the Mk I in both Male and Female forms were released last year, so those offering aftermarket extras have been working on their products.
One such outfit is New Penguin, a designer and producer of water slide decals in Russia. One of their enthusiasms is the early British tanks and they have released several sets, mostly 1/35 scale, but also in 1/72 scale. This review will look at three of the sets that can be used with the above Takom kits.
Content and Review
The sets reviewed here are as follows:
- #35005: Ground Ironclads Part 1 British WW1 Mk.I Male
- #35006: Ground Ironclads Part 2 British WW1 Mk.I Female
- #35010: Ground Ironclads Part 3 British WW1 Mk.I "Gaza Tanks"
Set #35005 includes markings to enable eleven different Males to be represented:
1. 742 OSTOROZHNO PETROGRAD
2. 743 OSTOROZHNO PETROGRAD
3. C.19 Clan Leslie
4. D.20 HMLS Daphne
5. OSTOROZHNO PETROGRAD (behind sponson, no number)
9. D.12 / 716
10. Dodo / 712 Supply tank with no guns
11. 746 Supply tank
This set comes with a double sided A4 sheet of instructions which provide details of both where to place the decals, as well as the paint schemes and which colours from the Ammo of Mig range can be used. From looking at what photos I can find, the decals seem to have been well researched and designed. The writing in numbers 1 and 2 above, for example, is as it should be, incorrectly spelled with a letter A at the end rather than a Cyrillic D, and the ďzhĒ letter made up a reversed C, an I and a normal C. All have a hand painted appearance.
#35006 provides for eight different Females:
1. A13 HMLS Weíre All In It
2. A17 HMLS Oh, I Say!!!
4. C.6 Cordon Rouge
5. A Company
6. D.17 HMLS Donner Blitzen Supply tank, no sponsons
8. 527 Wireless tank
Again, the full instruction sheet provides information on placement of decals, and the colours and configurations of the tanks represented, and where they were when the photos on which the decals are based were taken. The decals have the appropriate hand painted appearance, including for example the misaligned painting of HMLS DONNER BLITZEN that can be seen on photos, with HMLS dropped down and BLITZEN off to one side, and with its D. dropped slightly below the following number 17.
#35010 allows Males and Females operating in Palestine in 1917 to be modelled:
1. HMLS War Baby 574 Female
2. HMLS Tiger Female
3. HMLS Otazel Male
4. HMLS Sir Archibald Male
5. HMLS Ole-Luk-Oie Male
6. HMLS Nutty Female
7. HMLS Kia Ora Female
8. HMLS Pincher Male
The instructions are helpful again in showing, for example, that Tiger originally had the unsilenced exhaust roof covers, but later the cylindrical silencer was fitted, and that Kia Ora at some point had track grousers fitted. Recommendations on paint schemes are discussed, including obtaining the battered and sometimes camouflaged appearance that these tanks attained.
The research appears to have been as thorough as the records allow, and New Penguin give credit to the well-known Landships II site, which is a great source of discussion and reference for modellers of WW1 tanks. As stated above, the decals all have appropriately hand painted appearances and styles of lettering to match known photos.
The decals themselves appear to be accurately printed on the sheets, with perhaps a slightly larger surround of carrier than you might see on decals from the major manufacturers, though they also seem to have a relatively matt / satin in finish, and are certainly not glossy.
I tested one decal out to see how it worked in practice, and note that I tried it out in the harshest possible way, by applying it directly to straight Tamiya flat paint, without any gloss or satin coating applied first. I used MicroSet on the surface while the decal was soaking in tepid water; the decal took a little longer than normal to detach from the backing, and I removed it under water with tweezers holding the backing while the decal was lifted and applied with a paint brush. The decal was blotted with tissue and then MicroSol was applied. The usual wrinkling then drying and flattening occurred, and I am left with a flat and well attached looking decal. I applied it right over the camouflage stripe to test out the opacity of the white decal, and it looks pretty good to me, not 100% opaque, but not noticeably transparent by any means, and of course, that in itself may not be inauthentic in any case when representing markings that were hand painted. If applied on a properly prepared surface and then sealed using usual methods, I donít see any issues and I expect the finish obtained to be first rate.
If you have or are thinking of getting either of the Takom Mk.I tanks, then these sets of decals will expand the number of different vehicles that you could represent. It would seem that the designer has something of a passion for these tanks, and has spent some considerable time and effort on researching and then creating these sets in order to obtain as much authenticity as he can. The physical quality of the decals themselves also appears to be very good.
There are other sets of WWI tank decals available from New Penguin, and they are in the process of creating further sets. Price is generally around 6 Euros per sheet, and further details can be found on their web site.