Mark V "Composite" Heavy Tank
1/35 Interus

Kurt Laughlin


The Mark V tank was produced by Great Britain as an improvement to the mass-produced Mark IV series. The frontal armor was increased to 14mm and a raised cab included at the top rear of the superstructure. The Mk. V also used a new engine and transmission that allowed one driver to control the vehicle rather than four.

The Mk. V first saw combat on 4 July 1918 at the Battle of Hamel and served to the end of the war and in the postwar Tank Corps. The Americans also used the Mk. V in WW I. The combat career of the Mk. V did not end in 1918, however, as 59 tanks were sent to Russia by the western allies to in support of the White Army against the Bolsheviks during the Civil War. Many of these were captured by the Red Army and used against the White Army as well as the Poles into 1921. The RKKA included them as part of their tank inventory until 1932.

The Kit

I first saw an ad for the Interus Mark V a year or so ago but heard nothing in the interim until I saw it for sale at the Jadar-Model website. The kit comes in a typical thin eastern European box. There are three large sprues individually bagged instructions and decals. Use care when opening the box as despite the bagging, transit motion wore some holes in the bag and some very small pieces "leaked" out.

I should make mention that this is an entirely new kit and not a derivative or remold of the Emhar Mk. IV kits.

The pieces are molded in a dark green plastic with thick sprues. The parts themselves look very thick but the detailing is good with fine features. There were some small molding ripples and the large flat pieces had some waves in them but they were so shallow and smooth I hesitate to use the term "sink marks", but that's what they are. The plastic is very brittle, as I found when I tried using nippers to remove a part. The closeness of the gate to the edge of the part caused a nice divot it the edge. Use extreme care in removing parts. The edges of some pieces looked to be wavy around the gates so these will likely require filler at assembly. The Hotchkiss machine gun barrels seem to have been molded fully to scale with the result that several are short shot in the recuperator region under the barrels. These will need to be replaced or scratchbuilt. (I doubt could've gotten them off the sprues intact anyway.)

The kit represents a "composite" or "hermaphrodite" tank with a 6-lb gun sponson on the left and a MG sponson on the right. Normally tanks were fitted either with cannons ("males") or MGs ("females") exclusively, so the term hermaphrodite was given to those tanks with the characteristics of each.

Construction and Detailing

The kit uses the typical multi-piece hull seen in most kits coming out of eastern Europe. Interus has included a central spine bulkhead for the main hull which ought to help keep things square. Most pieces have a beveled join line to allow rivet detail near the edges. I'm not sure how well these will fit in practice but I'm certain some filler will be needed. (Or not after all, the real tanks had small seams between the plates.)

It seems that all the various track rollers are included in addition to the idler and sprocket wheels, but not the drive to the sprockets which was buried deep and invisibly in the side frames. All of the infinitesimal track roller attachments are molded separately and the idler adjustment pockets are hollow with separate backing plates to give a realistic three-dimensional effect. The tracks themselves are link and length with reasonable detailing on top and bottom. I tried fitting two links together but it will take a bit of work with an Swiss file to get the knuckles to join. (It may just be easier to remove the inner two knuckles on the female joint.) Fortunately there are only 36 separate links in the kit.

The hatches and visors in the driver's cab are positionable open or closed, with detail on the hatch interior. The parts are so thick though that a crane would be need to lift them if the real ones were that size. Several of the pistol ports are open with positionable armor flaps. A small platform two rudimentary seats are included for inside the driver's cab but opening hatches will essentially require scratch building an interior.

Oddly, the rails for the unditching beam are not included, despite being present on the British models and one of the tanks included on the decal sheet.

The sides plates match the drawings in the Armada book listed below in length but are a wee bit too short. The panel lines do not match exactly either but I can't determine which if either is wrong.

Instructions

The instructions include a brief history in four languages, a painting guide using Humbrol colors, a parts locator for the trees, eighteen-step instructions, and painting and marking instructions using multiple views. The instruction are clearly printed but some pieces seem to be questionably located. Perhaps when the actual parts are in-hand their positions can be better determined.

Markings/Decals

Decals are included for one British vehicle at the battle of Hamel in 1918, two White Army vehicles from 1919 and 1920, a Red Army vehicle from 1920, and three soviet RKKA tanks from 1924 (with a light/dark green camouflage scheme), 1926, and 1929.

Conclusion

This is not a Tamiya kit, not by far. It is great improvement over the rather soft and two-dimensional representations from Emhar. The construction sure looks like it will entail some careful dry-fitting and patient assembly, but even then I'm afraid there will still be gaps that need to be filled. The overall molding quality might also be a source of problems. Overall, it looks like it will require about as much work as a decent resin kit to fix up. However, given the low price ($20) I could certainly say that I got what I paid for. If you are interested in WW I armor and willing to put in a little work for an unusual and historically important subject, I can recommend the Interus Mark V.

References:

Landships British Tanks in the First World War - David Fletcher
Tanks and Trenches David Fletcher
Tanks of the Russian Civil War, Armada #14 M. Kolomiecz, I. Moschchanski, S. Romadin

The last is essential for completing any of the Russian versions. The book shows photos of all of the included schemes.