British Cruiser Tank Mk III, A13 Mark I

Kit #: PS72010 Preview by Stephen Brezinski - sbrez1(at)comcastl(dot)net
Edited by Rob Haelterman

This kit preview covers the early WW2 British cruiser tank that served in the Battle of France, Greece, and in North Africa 1940 - 1941. Interesting nomenclature the British used. If I understand right, this is the Cruiser Tank Mark III, named the A13 Mark I: so this is the third type of British cruiser tanks developed, and the first variant of that cruiser model. These vehicles were known for being fast, lightly armored, and the 2 Pounder gun adequate for defeating the opposing tanks at the time. A13 cruisers were captured in France and taken into German service.

A development of this tank is the Cruiser Mk IV A13 Mk II which featured additional, sloped, armor attached to the original turret sides. I understand that both the A13 Mk I and the A13 Mk II could be found serving with the BEF in France and in North Africa.

In the box art for the A13 Mk I above we see distinct British cruiser features, different from French tanks with their cast turrets and small roadwheels, and German tanks of the time with their small roadwheels and lower angular welded turrets. The upper right on the box states 1 + 1 indicating two kits in the box, and that it is a Quick Build kit. The olive green color implies that this box art depicts an A13 serving with the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France, 1940 or perhaps the home army.

Starting at the top we see the tall commander's cupola with view ports. The turret is tall and with flat sides with a long high-velocity 40-mm 2-Pounder main gun. On the hull I notice no bow machine gun and the driver is positioned in the center. This was the first British cruiser tank to use a suspension developed by Walter Christie. The suspension has the large rubber tired and paired roadwheels, characteristic of the Christie suspension also used with the Soviet BT and T-34 tanks. The track appears very narrow. The sprocket wheel is in the back.

I understand that this tank was replaced in service by the a development that was larger and with thicker armor: the A15 Crusader.

This photo shows the Cruiser Mk IV A13 Mk II tank taken into German service within a Pioneer unit and in service in the Soviet Union, 1941. This is a possibility of a conversion project. Note the sloped turret sides of the Mk II, and the additional storage boxes, un-ditching beam on the rear, antenna mount, and towing fixture. With scarcity of spare parts I cannot imagine that these vehicles lasted long. The vehicle color would be panzer gray.

Dan Taylor Modelworks has made nice resin and brass upgrade and conversion sets for this S-Model A13 Mk III Cruiser Mk I, kit 720010. This photo that I borrowed from Henk of Holland website shows new tracks and wheels, turret armor, new cupola & hatches, driver's side viewports, and an external gun mantlet, etc. Below is a list of Dan Taylor Modelworks resin and brass detailing sets for this 1/72-scale model.
Set 1 DTM-T-76022 - Decals - BEF AFVs set 1.
Set 2 C-76082 - A13 resin running gear upgrade.
Set 3 C-76083 - A13 Cruiser MK-III detail upgrade set.
Set 4 C-76084 - A13 Cruiser MK-IV conversion set.
Set 5 C-76085 - A13 Cruiser MK-IVA (Western Dessert) conversion set

The above scan from the instructions depict a four view painting showing tank color of a dark olive green and the location of the water slide decal markings. At left is the paint color guide.

Kit Parts
I counted 15 injection molded hard styrene plastic parts on a single sprue for each tank model, so with two models per box that is 30 plastic parts in total. On one fret there are etched brass parts for both model kits in the box.

Above are the kit parts all on one sprue per vehicle, so there are two sprues in each box. At upper left is the upper hull and superstructure with nice sharp, fine detail. Up at the front is the box-like driver area with roof hatch. In the center we see the bottom of the lower hull; the large channels running down each side are the spaces for the Christie suspension springs.

At upper left is the one-piece suspension and wheel parts 8 and 9. The suspension is well done but suffers the problem with tracks and wheels molded this way: the paired wheels are molded as one thick wheel. A fix for this is to purchase an aftermarket replacement such as from Dan Taylor Modelworks, or cut in grooves around the center of each wheel set. Cutting in the gap between each pair of wheels would involve cutting the wheels from the track, cutting or filing the space/gap, and then gluing it all back together. Notice also the wide spacing of the roadwheels on this tank.

Below the wheels is the 2-Pounder gun (part-3) which has a slide molded open muzzle. At bottom right is the exhaust muffler (part-1) with two flared exhaust pipes. At the bottom center is the choice of two commander's cupolas: the open cupola (part-2) and a closed cupola (part-5). On part-2, I first thought the holes on the underside of the cupola hatches were ejector pin marks but later noted they match the raised domes on the top of the hatch lid. These protrusions do not appear to be periscopes or vent domes so I surmise they may be ports for signal flags?

Missing from the hull and turret parts are the seams for the armor plates and the fine rivets, and the two smoke grenade dischargers mounted on the starboard side of the turret.

Above is a scan of the etched brass fret, and the water slide decal sheet with enough for the two kits in the box and many leftover markings for other British tank kits. My A13 tank kit was shared (since there are two complete models in the box) with a friend, so the brass fret and decal sheet came to me cut up, so I borrowed this scan above from Henk of Holland website. The etched brass fret here is for two models. Alas the S-Model brass fret did not supply the two side viewports for the driver's box. Aftermarket brass from Dan Taylor Modelworks supplies these viewports, but they can also be scratchbuilt with thin plastic card.

The kit instructions are the clear exploded-view type, typical of other S-Model kits and common to most small scale models these days. The cupola parts are marked wrong: the open cupola is part 2 not part 5.

I thank S-Model for producing this rare vehicle and rare modeling subject. With work and aftermarket parts this can be a fine display model in addition to a great wargame model.





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Article Last Updated:
22 February 2020