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Churchill Mk I Infantry Tank - early and reworked version - case report

Modelers ... 

      If there a vehicle with so many options as the Sherman, this vehicle is the Churchill Infantry tank. I have plans to build all (main) versions of the Churchill.  This is justified because I like the looks of British armored vehicles. And also as a tribute to the patron's name.
Sir Winston Churchill

      The Churchill Mk I was the first of the great line of heavy tanks that sported the name of the Prime Minister.

Churchill Mk I early

      The legend says that when presented to the prototype tank (then unnamed) Sir Winston Churchill reportedly said: "He's a tough guy, just like me ..."

Bingo: Appropriately named by the British ...

      But leaving the story (and the legends) aside, the main feature of this model of tank is the a high-speed gun in the turret and a howitzer in the front hull, following the "fashion" of the tanks at the time ...

Churchill Mk I with howitzer in the front hull
      ...such as the French Char B-1 heavy tank:
Char B1 bis BAYARD
and the american M3 Lee:
M3 Lee medium tank

Churchill Mk I - Notice the exposed tracks and the air filters in the side of the hull.
      The Tank, Infantry, Mk IV (A22) was a heavy British infantry tank used in the Second World War, best known for its heavy armour, large longitudinal chassis with all-around tracks with multiple bogies, and its use as the basis of many specialist vehicles. It was one of the heaviest Allied tanks of the war. The origins of the design lay in the expectation that war in Europe might be fought under similar conditions to that of the First World War and emphasised ability to cross difficult ground. The Churchill was rushed into production in order to build up British defences against an possible German invasion and the first vehicles built had flaws that had to be overcome before the Churchill was accepted for wide use. After several Marks had been built a better armoured version - the Mark VII - entered service.
      The Churchill was used by British and Commonwealth in North Africa, Italy and North-West Europe. In addition many were supplied to the USSR and used on the Eastern Front.

The predecessor: A20
    Initially specified before the outbreak of the Second World War the (General Staff designation) A20 was to be the replacement for the Matilda II and Valentine infantry tanks. In accordance with British infantry tank doctrine and based on the expected needs of World War I-style trench warfare, the tank was required to be capable of navigating shell-cratered ground, demolishing infantry obstacles such as barbed wire, and attacking fixed enemy defences; for these purposes, great speed and heavy armament was not required.
        The vehicle was specified initially to be armed with two QF 2 pounder guns each located in a side sponson, with a coaxial BESA machine gun. A third BESA and a smoke projector would be fitted in the front hull.
     The specification was revised to prefer a turret with 60 mm of armour to protect against ordinary shells from the German 37 mm gun. Outline drawings were produced based on using the A12 Matilda turret and the engine of the Covenanter tank. Detail design and construction of the A20 was given to the Belfast shipbuilders Harland and Wolff who completed four prototypes by June 1940. During the construction period the armament was reconsidered which including fitting either a 6 pounder or a French 75 mm gun in the forward hull. In the end a 3-inch howitzer was chosen.
A20 prototype (draw) - Notice the hull armament

The A20 designs were short-lived however, as at roughly the same time the emergency evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk occurred.
A20 prototype with Matilda type turret
        At 43 tons, with a 300 hp flat-12 Meadows engine, the A20 had limited power compared to the 18 ton Covenanter. This was a less serious limitation than it might appear, owing to the British distinction between the high-speed cruiser tanks and the slow-speed infantry tanks. Vauxhall were approached to see if they could build the A20 and one example was sent to Vauxhall at Luton to see if they could provide an alternative engine. To this end they developed a flat-12 petrol engine. For speed of production, this engine was based on a Bedford six-cylinder lorry engine, giving rise to its name of "Twin-Six". Although still a sidevalve engine, the engine was developed with high squish pistons, dual ignition and sodium-cooled exhaust valves in Stellite seats to give 350 bhp.

The A22 tank:
      With France conquered, the scenario of trench warfare in Northern Europe was no longer applicable and the design was revised by Dr. H.E. Merritt, Director of Tank Design at Woolwich Arsenal, based on the combat witnessed in Poland and France. These new specifications, for the A22 or Infantry Tank Mark IV, were given to Vauxhall in June 1940.
     With German invasion looking imminent and the United Kingdom having lost most of its military vehicles in the evacuation from France, the War Office specified that the A22 had to enter production within the year. By July 1940 the design was complete and by December of that year the first prototypes were completed; in June 1941, almost exactly a year as specified, the first Churchill tanks began rolling off the production line.
A22 prototype
      This hasty development had not come without cost though, as there had been little in the way of testing and the Churchill was plagued with mechanical faults. Most apparent was that the Churchill's engine was underpowered and unreliable, and difficult to access for servicing.                 Another serious shortcoming was the tank's weak armament, the 2 pounder (40 mm) gun, which was improved by the addition of a 3 inch howitzer in the hull (the Mk I CS had the howitzer in the turret) to deliver an HE shell albeit not on a howitzer's usual high trajectory.
Churchill Mk I CS (reversed) - Notice the inversion of the guns: 76mm howitzer in the turret and 2 pdr. gun in the front hull
    These flaws contributed to the tank's poor performance in its first use in combat, the disastrous Dieppe Raid in August, 1942.
      Production of a turret to carry the QF 6 pounder gun began in 1941 but problems with the plate used in an all-welded design led to an alternative cast turret also being produced. These formed the distinction between Mark III and Mark IV.
      The poor performance of the Churchill nearly caused production to be ceased in favour of the upcoming Cromwell tank; it was saved by the successful use of the Mk III at the Second Battle of El Alamein in October 1942.
      The second major improvement in the Churchill's design, the Mk VII saw first used in the Battle of Normandy in 1944. The Mk VII improved on the already heavy armour of the Churchill with a wider chassis and the 75 mm gun which had been introduced on the Mk VI. It was primarily this variant, the A22F, which served through the remainder of war and was re-designated as A42 in 1945. The Churchill was notable for its versatility and was utilized in numerous specialist roles.


             Churchill Infantry Tank - (A22)
Place of origin
United Kingdom
Service history
In service
1941–52 (British Empire)
Used by                                                                                                                       
  • United Kingdom, Soviet Union Canada, Ireland, Poland
Production history
1941 to 1945
Number built
5,640 approx.
  • 38.5 long tons (Mark I)
  • 40.1 long tons (Mark VII)
7.44 m
3.25 m
2.49 m
5 or 6 (commander, gunner, loader/radio operator, driver, co-driver/hull gunner + AVRE engineer)

  • For Churchill I-VI: 102 mm hull front, 89 mm hull side, 51 mm hull rear, 89 mm turret front, 76 mm turret side and rear
  • Mark VII-VIII - 152 mm hull and turret front, 95 mm hull sides and turret sides and rear, 51 mm hull rear
Bedford 12-cylinder, 4 stroke, water-cooled, horizontally opposed, L-head petrol engine
350 hp (261 kW) at 2,200 rpm
9.1 hp (6.7 kW) / tonne
Merritt-Brown 4-speed constant-mesh epicyclic gearbox
Coiled spring
Operational range
90 km
24 km/h
Steering system
Triple differential steering in gearbox

The kits:
      For my double project, I´ll use two Mk IV AFV´s Churchill, as host:
Churchill Mk IV - AFV Club kit
... and the excellent IMA´s conversion kit of the desired version:
The IMA'a kit box (rigid plastic)
The resin conversion kit
      And the resin parts :
IMA's conversion kit - resin parts
      The instructions booklets are spartans:
Booklet - only draws, no references...
      For the Churchill Mk I early, I'll change the vinyl tracks by early tracks (by AFV- link-by-link):
AFV Churchill early tracks
      This is the model I'm try to reproduce:
      I began to study more deeply the Churchill Mk I and I discovered interesting things about it. First, as already said, the Churchills have many variations as the Shermans. Second, all the versions are quite different, ie, worthy of reproduction. In this project, I make two versions of the Churchill Mk I. 
       The Early Version:
Churchill Mk I - early
      And the Mk I Late (rebuilt), with rectangular filters in the sides and the fenders above the tracks. These reconstructions are typical of the Reconstruction Program that affected models Mk I, II and III.
Churchill Mk I - rebuilt version

        I will build both versions at the same time to save time ...
The plastic and the resin parts
         Suspensions in finalization:
four suspensions sponsons: too many wheels...
       Drive sprockets and idler wheels:
wheels in double
      Differentiation between Mk I early and late models: the early has not used the rails-piece guides for the tracks, like the late models. They used only 05 segmented guides, what I´ll made ​​with plasticard:
Churchill Mk I - exploded view
      Surgery time:
track guides
      Using some metal stuff, by RB Models:
MGs and AT gun in metal...
        Mk I Early:
Notice the early type of air filter
        Rear armour:
Churchill Mk I early - rear hull
Churchill Mk I early - front hull

      Another example of one  Mk I rebuilt:
Mk I rebuilt - notice the squared air filter and mudguards
       One thing that was bothering me was the spoked road wheels, typical of the initial models of the Churchill Mk I and II.
spoked wheels
      I'm 57 years and many, many kits in my closet. And all these kits still waiting to be built and the life is already too short ...  Another option would be to use the old and dirty (literally) trick: " the-mud-masks-and-hides-everything "
      As I was debating in these questions, I look more closely at the photos that I could collect about the Mk I and voilááá. Not all Mk I Early wore spoked whells, but some used "smooth" wheels!
      Look this picture: the last rear bogie with smooth wheels (blue arrow)...
Notice the spoked wheels (red arrows) and the "smooth" wheel in the last position (blue arrow)
     I started to cheer me up: If a tank uses a set of smooth wheels, why could not use all smooth?  The answer came with more research: I found a pic  of one Churchill Mk I Early with all smooth wheels!
Smooth wheels in blue, by Jove !!!
... and for me, this photo was the "pièce de la résistance"! Notice this Mk I girl, all cheerful, down from the landing ship, with flat (smooth) shoes:
Notice the smooth wheels in the red arrows...
        My laziness now, has a historical justification!!
Very hard work !!!
       The two girls, side by side:
Notice the differences between the air filters

Front view
       I started putting the set of LBL AFV tracks (early) and decided to save links. I set the amount of links only required for viewing through the fender, since the late version of the Churchill Mk I, they harbored this feature.  With this simple action, I save amost a full track. (plus the links in the Mk IV box...) . This is what being economical ....
Saving links, money and time...

       After the screams of HERETIC! calm down, here is something like:
The left fender in place. The lack of tracks is imperceptible..
and finally:
Fenders in position!!
Rear view
      If I don´t tell, nobody would ever know. But after this exercise of economy and sustainability, let's make the 76mm howitzers: The resin guns are unreliable: has a nasty habit of warping ...  Plastruct Time:
Making guns
       Comparing and preparing the metal reinforcement:
Plastic and resin howitzers...
       Reinforcement installed:
metal reinforcement
       Insertion place:
The howitzer place...
     And dangerous girl with guns:

The two girls with attitude...

and side by side
      Continuing the building of the two English girls... Removing a small detail common to more developed versions of the Churchills and nonexistent in early version: the spring from mechanism for scraping mud, at the rear of the chassis.
the spring injected in the side plate...
Early version !!!
        Scratching the 10 guides for the tracks, in the early version:
left side
right side
      The early version with the tracks in place... I love the look of lthe tracks exposed ...
Churchill Mk I early
    Metal work in scratch...
Copper wire and metal foil...
Extra-fuel, in the early model:
notice the metal work with copper wire
         The reworked version:
Churchill Mk I reworked version
         Working in the turret:
Adding AFV plastic parts
      Using the PE´s from the kit:

The girls, ready for paint...
      After primer (sorry, not photographed, but primer is primer), I applied the basic colors in the tanks: khaki-brown in reworked girl and green in the early. The reason is that these colors are being represented when early in England and Khaki in front of Tunisia ...
Reworked in khaky-brown and early in green...

       I did the ups and downs in the basics tones colors and a layer of Future to prevent silvering..
Ready for decals

        Betty, the early lady, sharpening his claws on England:

Churchill Mk I early - Betty

front view...

right side

rear view

        ..and Cameron, the reworked girl, in Tunisian front:
Desert lady...

rear view
      At this stage, weathering time: Filters and washes ... The younger girl (early), with the colors of the time of his service in England, in training duties: For now, light weathering ...
Churchill Mk I -early version

        Plus chipping:

 And the reworked Tunisian Girl, with sand, dust and dirt:

   Lots of chipping...sand is very abrasive!!!

        Almost there...

Gents, the Churchills are ready!!
       First, the early version: Mud and dirty, without the fenders.
Churchill Mk I - early version

Churchill Mk I - early version - left side

Churchill Mk I - early version - right side

Churchill Mk I - early version - front right side
Churchill Mk I - early version - rear right side
Churchill Mk I - early version - rear view

Churchill Mk I - early version - front left side

And the Churchill Mk I reworked, with fenders and Tunisian colors ...
Churchill Mk I - reworked

Churchill Mk I - reworked - right side
Churchill Mk I - reworked - left side

Churchill Mk I - reworked - front left view
Churchill Mk I - reworked - front view
Churchill Mk I - reworked - left rear view
Churchill Mk I - reworked - rear view
Churchill Mk I - reworked - right rear view
The two Churchills Mk I together...
          Well...More two British armour in my collection. The AFV and IMA kits are awesome...

Stay tunned for the next project!!!

2 comentários:

  1. There should be hundreds of comments here, these Winstons are very, very nice! I am a lot surprised that Inside The Armor gave up doing the Churchills, I guess not everyone is as crazy about them as me. Happens to be my favorite of the war, totally out of place for the times and yet, very useful. Could climb out of bomb craters that would force a Tiger crew to blow up their tank! And could (and did) take a turret full of gun up to a ridge where no other army would go and then provide the enemy with a pounding.

    I have one of Inside the Armor's interior kits and I wish someone else would take up the slack and do better interiors for the AFV Club Churchills. Course, you can't really see inside but dang if I have come to feel like a plastic vehicle MUST have an interior to go with the exterior.

    1. JClifford, thanks for your words. Indeed, these brute tanks was awesome and very robusts... Build the interior is not my first option, but when I'm in a state of madness a little more aggressive than usual, I do ... but honestly, as I said in the article, I think it's too much for my short life !!! hugs, my friend!!!