Unnecessary WWI tank conversion into a 40k compatible vehicle

A painted Trenchworx British Mk V. This is from the Trenchworx website. I didn't paint it, but I wish I did.

A painted Trenchworx British Mk V. This is from the Trenchworx website. I didn’t paint it, but I wish I did.

Behold the filthy splendor of Trenchworx’s new British Mk V, a WWI era tank in 28mm resin. It’s a cool model, and I appreciate the detail down to each individual rivet. Trenchworx recently held a Kickstarter to fund the Mk V, the Renault FT (a French tank and the most numerous tank fielded in the war), and the massive and boxy (and, of course, German) A7V (plus an armored Rolls Royce).

I dig the iconic designs of WWI tanks. They fascinate me because you can see the inventiveness and anything-goes spirit that went into them. No one knew if their design would be a success in the field because there was no such thing as a tank before. Even as the metal monsters began to rumble onto the battlefields of western Europe, rarely were they in sufficient numbers to make conclusive judgments about the success of their design and engineering. The war progressed and so did the tanks. Manufacturers flaunted new designs. If you flip through photos of WWI tanks, you can see the experimental try-anything thought processes that brought these machines life. It’s the same spirit of ingenuity one can also see in early flying machines (which I chided in Flight).

For whatever reason, I have never owned a WWI model tank. I have Warhammer 40k tanks, which certainly were based on the British Mk IV and V tanks (apart from its tall profile, the Land Raider is heavily inspired by these tanks; friends often ask me why a tank of the far future would ever be based on a WWI era tank, and I shrug uselessly, “looks cool,” but I don’t know either). I got a couple of Mk Vs and FTs from Trenchworx’s Kickstarter, but one problem…and, look, I know this sounds looney tunes, so just read quickly and  nod politely…I like my stuffs to be in the same scale. I had 3 3/4-inch Star Wars and G.I. Joe figures. If you gave me a 12-inch G.I. Joe, in my mind he became a giant robot built by Destro to help Cobra fight the Joes. Mine was a 3 3/4-inch world, and if I couldn’t fit a toy into it, then it sat on the sidelines, lonely and unplayed. The Transformers world, where size tended to matter, meant Go-bots (who were only slightly taller than Bumblebee) were generally only slightly more powerful than Bumblebee (I made exceptions for Leader-1 and Cy-kill because…who cares). It bugged the ever loving shit out of me that the die cast ships from Star Wars IV were completely messed up. The Millennium Falcon and Star Destroyer were the same size. And the Falcon was the same size as the X-wing. What am I supposed to do with that? I don’t want display pieces, I want to make stupid engine sounds and laser blasts and zoom around the room like an idiot. So now what? Well, every Xmas from here until when-frickin-ever, I have to (as a grown man) ask people to get me a ship or two from Fantasy Flight Games’ X-wing dogfighting game and reboot my ancient collection. I know. It’s silly and dumb. But I’ve got this little neural dojammer in my brain that absolutely friggin requires stuff to be in compatible scale. (I’m sorry you had to read that.)

So the thing of it is the British Mk V is what you would call 28mm true-scale. The term ’28mm’ usually denotes the height of a normal human from base to eye-line, and true-scale means realistically proportioned (as opposed to 28mm heroic scale, which is typical of Games Workshop’s miniatures). As a consequence, the Mk V looks small compared to a 40k tank. Again, because I am an idiot, I want my stuffs to be compatible. Now the Renault FT is a very small tank, and that’s cool because I wanted to use it as a kind of one-man tank for the Imperial Guard guys. But the Mk V I envisioned as…I dunno, maybe as a troop transport, perhaps as a replacement for the Chimera model (which I never liked and never bought). (Why, several friends asked me, do I need to build–very slowly and over the course of decades–a 28mm mobile mechanized infantry unit? I don’t know. I am a grown man with adult responsibilities that include watching professional football and drinking Guinness and I really don’t know.)

How to proceed? How to take a perfectly good WWI model and turn it into a 40k monstrosity? Consider this the Completely Unnecessary Guide to Converting a Perfectly Wonderful Model into Something Bigger. By ‘bigger,’ I mean ‘wider.’ I wanted to do this in a way that anyone could follow. Hell, I’m not an expert modeller or expert anything. If you remember my equally unnecessary adventure to build a bar, there are no fewer than half a dozen instances at which I should have lost a limb. The Mk V model is long enough for 40k purposes, but it lacks the bulk that characterizes the mechanized vehicles of the Imperium. The Mk V model consists of a single body piece with generous tabs that slot into track pieces on either side. My solution was simply to glom together two bodies.

Comparison of the stock piece (front) and the same piece (back) after excising the 3 tabs that normally fit into the outer piece.

Comparison of the stock piece (front) and the same piece (back) after excising the 3 tabs that normally fit into the outer piece.

I took my dremel and a couple of Mk V bodies and went outside. The result is in the above picture. I wore a mask to filter out the resin dust. Here’s how I cut the tabs:

 

This is a rough diagram (in exaggerated scale) on how to cut the tabs off with a dremel rotary attachment.

This is a rough diagram (in exaggerated scale) on how to cut the tabs off with a dremel rotary attachment.

It’s not practicable to dremel the tab off flush to the body, so you have to do it in pieces. This rough diagram shows an exaggerated view of the tab. Cut on a diagonal, then cut that off going perpendicular to the body. That little wedge falls off, and you rinse and repeat. Don’t worry if you cut into the body itself. You won’t see it once it’s fitted together with the other pieces, so cut bravely and boldly. The key to this whole project is you are only cutting the tabs on one side, because you still want to be able to attach the tracks (body tab into tracks slot) to the other side. So dremel off the tabs on the right side of one body and off the left side of a second body. File or dremel off any remaining imperfections. Dry fit, file, dry fit, file. Repeat until they fit flush. These are big pieces, and, being resin, sometimes there is slight warpage that you only see when you’re trying to do something weird like I am. If it’s not perfectly flush, use some greenstuff or milliput to fill in the gap.

Now we can see the difference between a bog standard British Mk V (single body) next to a bog standard Rhino Mk IIc (the crux on the front isn’t bog standard, I guess, but the rest is…oh, the doors aren’t…well, it’s a Rhino at any rate).

Here is a size comparison between the bog standard British Mk V (dry fit pieces with none of the weapons and bitz added) and a bog standard Rhino Mk IIc (primed and basecoated only). You can just make out an ad in the newspaper imploring you to save $x. It probably says "Save $8," but I like to believe that hidden '8' is really a '0' and it says, "Save $0," which would be true whether you purchase the whatsit or not.

Here is a size comparison between the bog standard British Mk V (dry fit pieces with none of the weapons and bitz added) and a Rhino Mk IIc (primed and basecoated only). You can just make out an ad in the newspaper imploring you to save $x. It probably says “Save $8,” but I like to believe that hidden ‘8’ is really a ‘0’ and it says, “Save $0,” which would be true whether you purchase the whatsit or not.

Here, I've dry fit two Mk V main bodies (no weapons or bitz) and placed it next to a bog standard Rhino Mk IIc.

Here, I’ve dry fit two Mk V main bodies (no weapons or bitz) and placed it next to a Rhino Mk IIc.

This is a much beefier vehicle now. This is just a dry fit of the main pieces. There are no weapons or bitz. You can see a gap on the top where the bodies meet that will require some milliput putty. I think the double-bodied Mk V looks like it’s from the same universe as the Rhino (or near enough). Just my personal preference. My stupid personal preference. Now what? I may add some plasticard to the boxy elements on top of the body to join them and better unify the two bodies as one. The weapons that come with the Mk V are true-scale and do not match the exaggerated heroic scale weapons in the 40k universe, so I’ve gone to the bitz box to find some compatible armament. That’s for part 2, which, realistically, is a couple of months away.

Check out Trenchworx, if you’re interested.

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