An injection molded quarterscale British infantry tank!? Whoever heard of such a thing? Read on...
The Matilda II A12 Infantry Tank, Mk II, was a heavily armored British tank of World War II. Named after a cartoon duck, Matilda is also an old Teutonic female name meaning "mighty battle maid". The only British tank to remain in service throughout the entire war, some 2,987 tanks were produced from 1937 until August 1943.
A small force of Matildas stopped Rommel cold at Arras in the Battle of France. In North Africa, Italy’s only defense against the "Queen of the Desert” was praying they would break down. Matilda’s 78 mm frontal armor was almost twice as thick as its closest armored rival, France’s SOMUA S35, and was impervious to any contemporary German or Italian anti-tank gun. Matilda’s 40 mm 2-pounder gun could shoot through any Axis tank at normal combat ranges. Only heavy artillery and Germany’s 88 mm FlaK could counter Matildas. Captured Matildas were used by the Axis.
By 1942 progressively more powerful German anti-tank guns could penetrate the Matilda. The 40 mm 2-pounder gun could not fire high explosive rounds to suppress them. Progressively thicker German armor rendered the 2-pounder impotent. British doctrine of infantry tanks was of heavily-armored vehicles moving at a speed equal to walking infantry. If the Axis could not shoot through the slow infantry tank, they could run around it. Matilda was eventually banished to the Pacific where Japanese forces lacked heavy anti-tank guns.
A third of the Matilda production was sent to the Russians to replace their huge tank losses. The Soviets considered them better than nothing, most were lost in 1942; some survived into 1944.
Bandai first issued this model in the 1970's and re-issued it in the late 1980's. Unfortunately, this is one of the series not re-issued by FROG/Fuman in the 1990s. Bandai’s molds had held up well, but are rumored to have been mishandled by Fuman, and subsequently scrapped.
Packed in a sturdy two-piece box, all sprues were sealed in plastic bags.
Built with two hundred thirty-four tan pieces on four sprues, the parts are crisply cast with sharp detail and virtually free of flash, mold marks, ejector marks and sink holes. Two vinyl tracks have detail on both sides. There are some mold seams along edges but most of these can be eliminated with the pass of an X-acto blade. A sprue to build Figure set No. 21, four Royal Tank Regiment crew, with twenty-seven parts is included. This brings the total part count to two hundred sixty-one.
Seventy-four of these pieces are used to build the Matilda’s troublesome suspension.
Thirty-two pieces are the sixteen rounds for the 2-pounder! Curious that Bandai made each round in two parts.
Each four-part AEC or Leyland 6-cylinder 180 hp bus engine has basic detail, and connects to five pieces for the cooling system and transmission.
Twenty-six parts build the Ordnance QF 2-pounder 40 mm gun, turret basket and mountings, not counting those thirty-two ammo pieces.
No molded detail enhances the inside of the hull, turret, or engine compartment, nor its access hatch. No attempt was made to texture the cast armor. Lithe parts like the tools and rearview mirror posts are a bit thick. Tools and some fittings are molded on.
Test fitting promises a tight model; three Bandai 1/48 AFV's I have recently built generally have good fit (see link below).
The A12 was 15 ft 11 in (6.0 m) long and 8 ft 6 in (2.6 m) wide. Bandai’s model in scale is 17 ft 6 in long from fender to rear armor, and 8 ft 9 in wide.
Bandai released this model with their figure set No. 21, a sprue of four British tankers. These figures are in-scale and well detailed -- maybe not up to today's quality, but respectable.
Decals and Painting:
Several choices for divisional, squadron and vehicle numbers are provided. Three vehicle names are included. Bandai's decals were detailed, well registered, and thin.
The easy to follow instructions only give basic painting guidance. No paint companies are referenced. The box art Caunter Scheme camouflage is not shown in the instructions.
Whether modeling a Matilda retreating in France, dominating the desert, or pacifying the Pacific, this kit is a good quarterscale British tank. Unfortunately, as it is one of the harder to find Bandai kits, it can be expensive.
Photos of built Bandai / FROG / Fumans: Bandai Gallery
About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR) FROM: TENNESSEE, UNITED STATES
I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art.
My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling!
My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...