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Waltzing My Matilda
Building Italeri's Matilda in Braille Scale

Italeri, 1/72 scale

by Glen Porter


As far as I know, there have only been three Matildas in Braille Scale, two in 1/76th and one in 1/72nd scale.

The first littly, by Airfix, is one of their better 1/76 scale kits and the other by Fujimi I haven't seen but I'm told is not as good as the Airfix offering. The best, I believe, is the old Esci kit recently re-released by Italeri. I reviewed this kit on HyperScale several months ago.

Like all older small scale kits it has faults, in this case mainly around the nose. The forward track guards are too wide causing the front of the hull to be too narrow. A smaller fault, and easier to fix, is the weld seams on the nose which are in the wrong place. Being the lazy sod that I am, I didn't worry too much about the track guards and just altered the position of the welds. I did however, thin the visible ends of the guards to a more scale thickness and I scratch built the smoke grenade thrower on the right side of the turret as it was unusable from the kit. The rest of the kit was built more or less out of the box.

And hasn't this kit got some detail! Most of Esci's later kits got link and length tracks but not this one. In fact, as far as I know, after it first appeared, it was not seen again until Italeri's re-pop. It has been missing from the Esci Range for so long that everyone thought that, along with some other missing kits, the moulds had been destroyed or lost. The tracks that do come with the kit are rubber bands of course, but in a later material as used by Italeri and well moulded and therefore quite usable considering that the top run of tracks are not seen. It has a parts count like one of the latest offerings from Dragon and makes the Airfix and Fujimi kits look quite naked.

The fact that this is 1970s/80s technology means there is still some clean-up to be done and the myriad of road wheels were all cone shaped and had to be filed straight.



When I fitted the side skirts to the upper hull, they were not a particularly good fit and I had to use some filler to get rid of the seam. This, unfortunately, removed some of the rivets which are along the outside top of the track guards, front and rear and along the centre top section of the side skirts. I tried to replace them by drilling a series of small holes in a straight line but it was not effective enough and I abandoned it after the side skirt centre was done.

About eighteen months ago, I reviewed for Hyperscale some enamel paints from Xtra Color, Light Stone, Silver Grey and Slate. These three just happen to be the three basic colours for the British Army's Caunter Scheme. At the time, I didn't have a suitable model on which to demonstrate these colours and it turned out to be a bit of a compromise. I promised myself that as soon as a suitable model came along, I would have another go with them. Well, here it is.

The Matilda is the one vehicle that almost everyone equates with the Caunter Scheme. Just about every kit of the Matilda in any scale has at least one Caunter in it and every book on the Matilda is similarly endowed. Unfortunately, for many years, most people have got the colours wrong including the kit manufacturers and book illustrators. A year or so ago, well-known British Armour Colour Reseacher, Mike Starmer, published a series of books on British Armour Colours from research he and others had done on the subject. One of these was on the Caunter Scheme. Now the Extra Color paints, that I mentioned earlier, match the swatches in Mike’s book to such a degree that I think they probably used them as a reference for the paints.

The next problem was determining where the colour demarcations should be on the model. Because I had no photos of a Matilda in the Caunter Scheme, I had decided to model a generic vehicle with fictitious markings so the demarcations didn't have to be exact. From various other references, I was able to work out the demarcations for the front hull, sides and turret but not the engine deck so this is fictitious and some what simplified.

Before all the smaller bibs and bobs were added to the hull and turret, I painted it over-all Light Stone. This was before I had joined the upper and lower hull but with the side plates added to the upper I found that I could slide the lower hull in from the rear to match the camo scheme. I then masked up the areas to be painted Slate with the Silver Grey coming last. On completion of these three colours, all the small bits that I had left off before were now added and hand painted to match the camouflage. The upper and lower hulls were now joined and the exhaust system fitted.



The tracks were painted before fitting and simply poked into the cavities at the front and rear of the track guards until they were tight around the drive sprocket, road wheels and return roller which had already been fitted. I glued the tracks down using thickened Tamiya Liquid glue which I bought from my local Hobby Shop but I believe it is made by dissolving Tamiya clear sprue in the glue. It has a million uses and because it has it's own body, small bits tend to stay where you put them instead of falling over.

The whole model was glossed and the few fictitious decals were added. I am lead to believe that only the very last few Matildas left in Caunter got the White/Red/White recognition markings so these were left off. In fact, the only markings I ended up using were serial numbers and vehicle names but I must stress again this does not represent an actual vehicle. After the decals were thoroughly dry, I gave them another light coat of gloss to seal them in.

Over the next week, while waiting for the gloss to cure, I went over the whole model with a fine brush and Tamiya German Grey Enamel to simulate where I thought the paint would have been worn off. This tends to look too stark but will be toned down later with Tamiya Weathering Pastels. Several fine coats of MM Dullcote was then sprayed on to matt it down.

The figures are from AB and on first acquiring them I was not very impressed. Many of the features such as eye sockets and the like looked too deep but as they were all I had, I decided to give them a try. To my surprise, when I started to paint them, they improved dramatically to the point that I ended up being quite happy with the result and will definitely use them again.


With the figures painted and mounted, all that was left to do was dust it down with the pastels. I really like using these products. As well as making the model look dirty and dusty as it would after several months in the desert, it also lightens the colours and tones everything down such as markings and the scratch marks mentioned above. The Tamiya product also allows you to handle the model far more than conventional pastels.

With the addition of a radio aerial the model is complete. I must admit, I've realy enjoyed this project because it's like nothing I've ever done before. I've also seen other models made from the same kit that are far better than mine, with almost all of the external equipment being scratch built but thats not my way as my scratch building skills are some what limited.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading about and looking at it as much as I've enjoyed building it.

Click the thumbnails below to view additional images:

Model and Text by Glen Porter
Page Created 24 March, 2007
Page Last Updated 24 March, 2007