A13 Cruiser Mk. III

The A13 is one of those esoteric AFVs from the early years of WW2 that has that special something that really intrigues me.  It’s a poster child for the “I think this will do nicely” school of thought that prevailed among tank designers before the war.  Sadly the A13, or Cruiser Mk III as it was also called, turned out to be a big disappointment on the battlefield.  Almost all of the A13’s that went to France in 1940 with the British 1st Armored Division were either destroyed or left behind.  The A13 soldiered on in various configurations through North Africa and Greece but was quickly replaced when newer and more robust tanks made their appearance.
 While the A13 might have been a disappointment on the battlefield, Bronco’s A13 kit is no disappointment on the workbench.  Despite a few warts it builds very nicely.

The level of detail is quite nice.  There are a few accuracy issues on the engine deck and while there are aftermarket upgrade sets available (from Tiger Models) the flaws are not so grave that they ruin the model.  I wanted to build this one stock from the box anyway so I left the deck as-is.  The kit comes with some nice photo etch parts and clear light lenses.

The major parts fit very nicely and the engineering was very straight forward.  One major flaw was the instruction sheet.  They list the construction sequences outrageously out of order.  I ended up making a photo copy, cutting them up and taping the steps back together in an order that made sense.  Whoever at Bronco proofread these instructions deserves a trip to the woodshed.
 The only other major flaw with the kit was the vinyl tracks, which are too short to fit on the road wheel assembly.  Luckily for me, a very pointedly nasty email to Bronco earned me a free set of their individual link track sets for the A13.  The links are extremely small and fiddly but once I got a system down they went together fairly quickly.

I mixed the colors from various Tamiya acrylics.  I was working under somewhat of a time constraint (a looming local contest) so I did not keep track of the mixtures.  I do remember that the British Khaki Green is mostly Tamiya XF-51 Khaki Drab and the Dark Green is mostly XF-13 Japanese Army Green.

Once all the basic painting, post shading and detailing were done I applied a wash with khaki artist oils mixed with Liquin to enhance the flow.  After letting this dry for a day or so I followed up with a wash of black artist oils to give it a nice 3D effect.  The rivets and other detail really popped with a drybrush.  I used ground pastel chalk to build up some and accumulated road debris in the tracks and running gear area. 

The kit comes with markings for three vehicles.  I opted to use the marking for a tank from the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, 1st Armored Division in France, 1940.  They all went on without any fuss with Micro Set and Micro Sol.

Since this was supposed to be primarily a stock box build, the only detail I added were a few rivets made with a micro punch and die set, solenoid wires for the grenade launchers on the turret side and some odds and ends in the commanders cupola interior since it was to be posed open.  The figure is adapted from a Mini Art British Tank Crew set with a Hornet head.

Problems with the tracks and instructions aside, all in all this is an excellent kit.  The detail is crisp and the all the parts fit well.  The photo etch parts make it possible to build a first rate kit right from the box without any problem.

1 comment: