I recently added one of Warlord/Italeri’s Cromwell tanks to my armour stable, but actually had another sitting on my shelf. When I came across a nifty little conversion kit from S and S Models that can turn it into the Close Support version armed with a 95mm howitzer, I knew what I had to do!
The Cromwell VI (CS)
A straight swap of the standard 75mm gun with a Ordnance QF 95mm howitzer, the vehicle was similar to the Centaur IV used by the Royal Marines on D-Day (the difference being the type of engine). Unlike some other howitzer-armed tanks the Cromwell CS wasn’t an infantry support vehicle, it was assigned to squadron HQ in armoured recce units. Its job was to support the gun tanks of the sabre squadrons, mostly by firing smoke although it obviously had a decent HE punch. As far as I know it also retained the 2″ smoke discharger in the roof that the regular Cromwell had, so this thing could be really smoking up the countryside if you want.
In Chain of Command it would have the following stats:
|Name||Armour||AP||HE||Secondary Armament||Speed||Notes||Support List|
|Cromwell VI CS||6||4||9||Hull and Coax MG||Fast||Main gun smoke||7|
The CoC rulebook doesn’t actually include rules for main gun smoke, so you’ll have to concoct something.
For £6.50 +P&P the S and S models kit contains an alternative gun that matches the Italeri kit that Warlord sell (S and S are using some pics of my model on their site, but I’m not affiliated with them). You also get two metal turret boxes, these aren’t specific to the CS tank, but are a nice way of differentiating it from the gun tanks you might already have. They also make it look a bit like its more famous descendant, the Centurion, which is cool.
S and S Models do some nice conversion kits actually, such as one containing a 17pdr gun, turret bustle and a plate for the lap gun that upguns the Warlord/Italeri Sherman kit. They also do sandbag armour for Shermans and several different ARV and dozer kits, hopefully they’ll be adding more mod kits to this range as I think it’s a brilliant idea.
I’ve reviewed the Warlord plastic Cromwell kit before, but this was the first time I’d built one from scratch. It’s an easy kit, and you’ll have something that looks like a tank in about 20 minutes. You’ll then spend the next hour adding all the super fiddly detail. This thing is festooned with periscopes, lights, tow hooks, etc. The rear of the vehicle is about six parts, too. The driver, commander and co-driver’s hatches open, although I’ve glued all mine shut. I’d suggest gluing a lot of the smaller bits on then tidying them up afterwards, as they’re very small. The periscopes in particular need to be done this way, the point where they attach to the sprue is very visible once it’s on the vehicle, so needs careful attention.
I’d also suggest not gluing the upper and lower hull together during assembly. Doing so will allow you access to the wheels and tracks during painting, which makes it much easier. The fit of the two hull parts is pretty good, just make sure they mate ok and glue them once you’ve got the running gear painted.
I don’t bother with antennas on most of my vehicles. They just stick up and make the vehicle take up twice as much shelf space, but if you want ’em some chunky plastic ones are included in the kit.
Of course, using the cast metal howitzer means you’ll be left with a spare plastic 75mm gun still on your sprue, so why not build it up so that you can swap the gun? Two models in one! You could magentise the barrels themselves, but given the fact that the Cromwell’s turret is a big slab-fronted thing it’s more seamless to swap the whole front, including the gun mount.
I built up the howitzer version using the parts from the box and the S and S metal gun. I like to glue my gun barrels in place so they don’t go all wobbly during play, so I didn’t use all the complicated gubbins included for making a movable gun and just glued the metal howitzer straight onto the back of the turret front plate. Using that front plate as a template I cut out a new one from plasticard for the 75mm gun. I assembled the gun using all the remaining parts from the kit and glued that assembly onto the back of the plasticard.
The tricky part is the exterior detail. Cromwells had old-timey bolted armour, and the turret wouldn’t look right with a smooth flat plate on the front. I used some Sugru to take a mould of the bosses, left it for 24 hours and then painted liquid green stuff into my Sugru mould. That seemed to do an ok job, and I stuck the resulting bosses onto the plasticard in about the right place. I have zero skills at scratchbuilding, so I’m both surprised and happy how this turned out looking roughly ok. The two different turret fronts attach with little neodymium magnets. There was a bit of faff getting this right, as the distance from the magnet inside the turret to the back of the gun was different and I had to do a bit of filing to make both match up.
Apart from the gun and the turret boxes I haven’t messed about with the rest of the vehicle, except for a couple of small bits of stowage.
I’ve followed my usual recipe for Allied armour here: spraypaint with Army Painter’s Army Green spray, pick out any details like tracks and stowage, apply decals (Polish 1st Armoured Division’s armoured recce regiment in this case) then slather it in AP’s Strong Tone Ink. After a pin wash and a drybrush in AP Goblin Green (which always looks like it’s far too bright when it’s in the bottle) I throw some Tamiya weathering powders at it until it looks dirty enough and give it a spray varnish.
The only tricky part was making sure both detachable turret fronts matched the rest of the vehicle. Overall this was a pretty quick and simple paint job.