mercredi 9 mai 2012

Polish TKS tankette with 20 mm FK cannon – 10th Cavalry Brigade (The Black Brigade) – Tom Modellbau 1/35th

Historical background
In the late 1920s the Poles acquired the Vickers tankette and used it to produce their own version: TK.1 and, subsequently, the TK.2 and TK.3. The latter was the first tank produced in quantity in Poland. It had a crew of two, and had a 40-hp Ford Model A engine that drove the tank at about 45km/hour. It was armed with one 7.92mm machine gun and had maximum 8mm armor. The development of the tankette concept had been continued in Poland over the years, through progressive steps and had given rise to the TKS powered by a Polski-Fiat motor which protection was capable of withstanding small calibre. Further, two versions of an ultralight self-propelled gun, fitted with a 37mm Bofors and a 47mm antitank gun mounted in the front plate, were designed on the basis of the TKS and became known as the TKS-D. A small number of such vehicles were constructed but the design was rejected after trials (nevertheless these took part of the September 1939 campaign within the Polish 10th Cavalry Brigade). It was decided to investigate the possible adaptation of either the Danish Madsen or the Swiss Solothurn 20mm cannon for this type of vehicle but the trials conducted with these foreign weapons proved to be very deceptive and a homemade weapon of this calibre was eventually conceived. The Polish 20mm FK cannon was ready in 1938 and its mounting on TK.3 and TKS tankettes started in 1939 after suitable modifications of the vehicles. According to different sources, only 20 to 24 of these tankettes were so modified when the war broke out. These were quite effective against the Panzers with their 20 mm gun but for Poland it was a case of too little, too late.
The particular vehicle that I’m going to depict made part of the 10th Cavalry Brigade (The Black Brigade: nickname given after the black jackets worn by Polish mechanized troops) which owned 8 of these TKS with a 20 mm gun and which commanding officer was Col. Stanisław Maczek. Despite numerical and technical superiority of the Germans, this unit fought bravely against two Panzer divisions slowing them down but was forced to retire to Hungary where it was interned. Most of its soldiers managed to get to France, to join the Polish Army and after France surrendered, the veterans of "The Black Brigade" went to Great Britain and became the core of the Polish 1st Armoured Division.
Unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to take myself pictures of the real stuff but here are some books and links that are worth a visit if you plan on building this kit. According to the references that I’ve found, a restored example of a TKS can be observed at the Polish Army Museum in Warsaw...         
-      The Invincible Black Brigade. Polish 10th Cavalry Brigade 1939 – Mushroom Model Publications: a really good book that describes the story of the first Polish Armoured unit from its inception to the end of the Polish Campaign in September 1939. Lots of good quality pics and drawings of vehicles that are often forgotten by manufacturers and modellers!
-      Trucks and Tanks Hors-série N°9: Chasseurs de chars et engines d’appui allies Durant la seconde GM : provides a good 1/35th plan of the TKS with the 20 mm gun
- : nice website with a lot of relevant information and reference pictures about Polish armour.        

Why this subject?
I needed a break with the three projects that are currently on my bench: Bronco’s Hotchkiss H39 (painting), Italeri’s Staghound (diorama almost finished) and Plus Models’ British Morris CDSW Light Breakdown truck (about 1/3rd of build).  I found this kit two weeks ago during the Modelforce 2012 show in Helchteren. It was quite cheap (about 9,50€) and I thought that it wouldn’t be a big disappointment if the kit wasn’t that good. Apart from that I also have always been attracted to “exotic”, “omitted” or “less explored” subjects such as the battles and equipment of the beginning of WWII. Moreover, to me, it seems that the Polish army’s equipment and fate much resembles Belgium’s at the outbreak of war: on the one hand good motorization and some advanced equipment and on the other hand no budget, too few tanks, lack of equipment, fuel and ammunitions and officers with a past conception of war.

The kit - TKS with 20mm gun – Tom Modellbau 1/35th      
Here are some pics of the content of the box and the beginning of the build of this tiny AFV. As you can see the kit is not bad because all the parts fit quite well but many details have been omitted or simplified by the manufacurer... and I'm trying to improve them a bit...

Some update soon!

4 commentaires:

  1. Zeer mooie start Tish en een zeer interessant project,kan je eens vertellen welke dikte je koperdraad is...

    1. Heel klein dingske... nog kleiner dan de Chenillette Renault...
      Ik gebruik eigenlijk altijd koperdraad van 0,3 mm voor dit soort delen: het is fijn maar toch stevig.

  2. Have the same kit but mine include 2 crewmembers in resin, thinking of starting to build it :)
    You have a good start on your build!
    sorry my netherlands are not so good yet :)

    1. THX for passing by Mats! You can see the build of this kit finished on this page:
      It' has been fun to build but needed a bit more work than I thought. All in all the kit is easy to build except the tracks... they're so tiny and fragile.... A lot of features also have been simplified and need some detailling.

      PS: it's no prob as regards Dutch ... it isn't my mother tongue either ; )