Matilda Mk III

British Infantry Tank

This is the first non-aircraft subject I’ll be looking at.  It’s been exciting to me to have a number of  armor and vehicle kits come available in 1/48th scale the last decade.

Matilda Mk III

Matilda Mk III

This may seem like an unusual choice for a first armor subject.  But I like the Matilda.  It is often considered the best allied tank in the first couple years of the war.  It had excellent armor protection, which enabled it to take a pounding.  In North Africa it was known as the “Queen of the Desert” and it fared very well against the Italians in 1940-1941.  Its main gun, a two pounder (40 mm) was mediocre.  It could penetrate most armor of the day, but the armor piercing rounds lacked a burster charge.  So it often just made holes but failed to kill.  It was of a category the British called “Infantry Tanks”, as opposed to “Cavalry Tanks”.  That meant it was slow and heavily armored, instead of fast and light.  Cavalry Tanks proved to be a flawed concept; in World War II going “light” rarely worked out very well.  Speed could be useful, but never at the expense of protection.

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I chose this subject purely because I like the camouflage.  British tanks were generally green at the start of the war.  But when the British Army deployed to North Africa they quickly realized dark green was not the ideal color!  So sand, brown and sky blue were all used in a sort of splinter scheme.  I believe the idea had to do with breaking up the outline to make it more difficult to judge range and movement.  This is a slightly different philosophy than a pure “hiding” sort of camouflage.  I know this idea had been discredited for ships by the end of World War I, but apparently the British Army thought it might work better for tanks.  Did it work?  Well, modern armor isn’t painted like this…


This is the Tamiya kit. I’m still sort of a newbie on tank models, and tracks cause me fits.  For aircraft, the big initial hurdles are clear parts and decals.  I feel comfortable now with those skills. Tanks are a different world in a few ways.  Overall, tanks get a lot dirtier.  So I spend more time with chipping, stains and washes on a tank.  But tracks, oof.  I find them difficult to align and keep straight during assembly.  And then comes paint.  They’re usually made of steel, some have rubber pads, and sometimes they’re painted and sometimes they aren’t.  So I’ve been playing with steel and gun metal colors as a base, then using a lighter metallic color to highlight detail and show some wear.  Then I apply a series of black, brown and/or tan washes.  I think I’ll build a few more tanks, and tweak my formula a few times before I’m satisfied yet!

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About atcDave

I'm 5o-something years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I was an air traffic controller for 33 years and recently retired; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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5 Responses to Matilda Mk III

  1. Pingback: Panzer III | Plane Dave

  2. Pierre Lagacé says:

    1/48 scale is also my favourite.

  3. Pierre Lagacé says:

    Revisiting your first posts Dave.

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