British Infantry Tank Mark IV, Churchill Mk.I

Kit #31127 MT27 Preview by Stephen 'Tank Whisperer' Brezinski - sbrez1(at)comcast(dot)net
Edited by Rob Haelterman

This is an older kit from the early 1990s and so far the only version of this initial version of the Churchill Infantry tank. This AFV was designed as a slow, heavily armored infantry support tank based on ideas reminiscent of WW1. It is a good model kit, in my opinion, and suitable for a display or wargaming piece. Model Trans Modellbau company produces some cast-resin conversion sets for this model.

This vehicle is the Mk I version of the Churchill, characterized by a 2 pounder gun, a coaxial Besa machine gun in a cast turret, and a bow mounted 3” howitzer in the bow. The kit also has additional parts to build it as a Churchill Mk II (or Churchill Ia in some references) which has a second Besa MG in the bow instead of the howitzer. We could potentially also convert Hasegawa's model to a Churchill Mk IICS for Close Support (or Churchill II in some references) which had the 2 Pounder gun in the hull and the 3” howitzer in the cast turret.

ESCI/Italeri offers a Churchill Mk III kit (though ESCI appears to mistakenly call it a Mk IV) and Dragon has anounced a new Churchill Mk IV kit in 1/72 in 2011.

A note on nomenclature:
The full title for the tank model in this box is the Infantry Tank Mark IV, Churchill Mark I or the Infantry Tank Mark IV, Churchill Mk II. This subject seems to have confused a lot of modelers, including myself. By “Infantry Tank Mark IV” it is meant that this is the fourth Infantry tank developed by the British: the Matilda I was the Infantry Tank Mark I, the Matilda II was the Infantry Tank Mark II, the Valentine was the Infantry Tank Mark III, and the Churchill was the Infantry Tank Mark IV (the fourth type of infantry tank they developed). So when ESCI boxed their kit as the “Tank Mk IV Churchill” many reviewers screamed ESCI got it wrong, “it’s a Churchill Mark III”! Well, actually ESCI got it mostly right but they just were not complete with the name. They should have stated it was the Infantry Tank Mark IV Churchill Mark III: the fourth type of British infantry tank and the third variant of the Churchill; ESCI just left off the words Infantry at the beginning and the Mark III at the end of the title! Hasegawa did a little better with the name on their box but they still did not get it complete.

The box art shows what the model kit should theoretically look like when completed and also serves as a guide for painting and markings. In the bow we see the long 3” howitzer barrel of the Churchill Mk I, rather than the bow machine gun of the Churchill Mk II. The turret is a cast turret for the Mk I and Mk II Churchills and is not the same as the cast turret for the later Churchill Mk IV. On the turret right side and rear are two storage boxes; the long 40-mm 2 Pounder barrel protrudes from the internal gun mantlet. On the hull side is a square crew escape hatch typical of the Churchill Mk I through Mk VI variants; later variants had round side escape hatches. The driver’s viewing hatch on the front plate is rectangular on the Mark I, Mk III and Mark IV whereas the later Marks had a round hatch.

Note that there are no track guards (a.k.a. fenders) over the tracks which kind of makes it hard to give a ride to supporting troops into battle. Note also that the small roadwheels are all steel so are not to be painted tire black. On the side is a tow cable which is not supplied in the kit. The rear engine air intake louvers on the hull sides face down whereas upgraded Mk I’s and later Churchill variants had a reworked design with the air intake facing upwards. The change to intake vents facing upwards is important to fitting wading trunks for the Dieppe and Normandy landings.

I cannot find references for this particular vehicle in the box art, but it best matches a photo of a vehicle exercising in the English countryside in 1942. I have never seen a Churchill Mk I at the Normandy landings in 1944, so I presume, based on the landing craft tank and barrage balloons, this is a tank on landing exercises. Many early marks of Churchill tanks were refitted and upgraded, so by 1943 an original Mk I or Mk II is unlikely. I have seen a photo of a Soviet Churchill Mk II on the eastern front ( ). The color is a nice medium green color (British Bronze Green?) and polished steel tracks (common when running over abrasive sand).

The kit has 48 light gray, injection molded styrene plastic parts, not including a single crew figure and two black-colored flexible band tracks. In this scan of Sprue A we have upper, side and lower hull parts and the sprocket and idler wheels (Parts 2, 3, 7 & 8). The parts are sharp and cleanly molded which is typical of Hasegawa models. The side armor parts (1 and 10) are missing some bolt detail. The handtools on the engine deck and the spare track on the hull side are molded on. At far left and right we see the 11 small outer all-steel roadwheels molded onto the hull sides (parts 1 & 10).

Sprue C (at left) contains the turret parts (parts 21 & 22, etc.) and the gun barrels (parts 34 & 35). For the 2 Pounder barrel (part 35) I have never seen the thick ring around the muzzle. This ring should probably be sanded down. Museum photos of the cast turret show the turret to be very clean with no coarse cast texture or casting seams and marks that we often see on Soviet T-34 and IS-2 cast turrets. A little filler on the assembly seam and some sanding later is likely all we’ll need. [This is not the same cast steel turret used on the Churchill Mk IV or Mk VII.]

Sprue B (at above right) contains the inner roadwheels (parts 19 & 20) and the coil spring roadwheel suspension (parts 17 & 18). The crew figure (part 43) is good and better than many figures included in kits, but is not up to present standards for a good display model.

This section of Hasegawa’s assembly instructions shows the 7-Step exploded-view instructions which are pretty clear; I noted no mistakes. At the bottom center is the water-slide decal sheet with additional markings not shown on the guide for the markings. On the sheet are partial markings for a Canadian Calgary Regiment Churchill at Dieppe in 1942; and the British First and Sixth Armored Divisions.
In step 5 of the instructions notice that there is a separate front plate (part 14) for the 3” howitzer to produce a Churchill Mk 1, and a separate part 13 for the Churchill Mk II with the Besa machine gun. Unfortunately, we just can’t substitute the howitzer for the machine gun; the front plate of the tank was actually different between the two Marks of the tank.

A painting and marking guide shows two vehicles, a Mk I at left and a Mk II at right. The decal sheet is incomplete for a significant number of markings for the Canadian Mk II tank at Dieppe.

The black colored soft plastic tracks were fine for 1990 but are not up to today’s standard for detail and accuracy. The inside track detail is generally lacking. Mud and dirt will help here. Glue the tracks together and down to the roadwheels with cyanoacrylate (Super) glue.


Modeling a Dieppe Raid (a.k.a. Operation Rutter or Operation Jubilee) Churchill Mk I.
At the famous Dieppe Raid of 1942 my references state that both Churchill Mark Is and Mark IIIs landed. Based on my references for the conversion of the Hasegawa Churchill kit we’ll need to:

  • Replace the side air intakes with those from the ESCI Churchill Mark III or scratchbuild them, so tall wading trunks can be attached.
  • Scratchbuild the two side wading trucks for the air intake and the rear stack for the air exhaust.
  • Scratchbuild the two vertical deep wading engine exhaust pipes.
  • Find complete suitable 1/72 or 1/76 scale markings for the 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade, 14th Armoured Calgary Regiment of 1942. These tanks had names beginning with the Squadron designation, i.e. Squadron B tanks had names Bob, Bolster and Bert, etc. The tanks also have outlined black boxes with white numbers on the turret sides.
  • Leave off the turret’s side storage box (part 32) and the rear fuel drum (parts 11 & 12).
  • Add a short run of track guard over the tracks at the rear next to where the side wading stacks are located.
  • For a good idea of a representation of a Dieppe Raid Churchill see the 1/76-scale Milicast model.


  1. THE CHURCHILL TANK, by Brent Perrett, Osprey Publishing Ltd. (1980). ISBN 0 85045 340 2
  2. BRITISH AND AMERICAN TANKS OF WORLD WAR TWO 1933-1945, by Peter Chamberlain and Chris Ellis, Cassell & Co., (1969). ISBN 0-304-35529-1
  3. Chris Shillito’s excellent website on Allied armor.
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Article Last Updated: 15 October 2011