|Find a more reasonable tank?|
Those of you that frequent the Ammobunker forums, or follow Inq28 scene, might be aware of a new collaborative event called Tor Megiddo. In an event hosted by Alexander Winberg and Helge "Wilhelminiatures," a group of extraordinarily talented hobbyists are building warbands and ramshackle vehicles to race across the sun scorched ruin that is Tor Megiddo. While certainly conjuring images of Mad Max, the primary thing that came to mind when reading about the project was GorkaMorka (old GW skirmish game with Orks) and my early years in the miniature wargaming hobby. With memories of orks crashing rusted buggies and trucks together on the open sand, I decided that we needed to take part in Tor Megiddo in some way. With some thought, I realized it would be a great opportunity to explore a concept that I have been meaning to for quite some time, can scale historical tank models be used to build Warhammer 40k vehicles? Surely the blazing sands of Tor Megiddo would have a few tanks cruising around, alongside war rigs and motorcycles? Long before the rise of Games Workshop, with people building scale models of airplanes and tanks, particularly ones replicating vehicles from World War II. To see if using a scale model might work for 40k, I decided to build a Tamiya 1943 T-34 Russian tank. Read on to see what I learned!
|The box and contents of the Tamiya 1/35 1943 T-34.|
A problem of scale
While there is certainly not a dearth of model kits available, deciding what to buy was a challenge, particularly concerning what scale would best match 40k models. The scaling conventions used for historical model kits are fairly different from those on Games Workshop models, or at least different in how they are expressed. With historical model kits, scale is listed as a fraction of the height of the actual item being replicated. A 1/35 scale tank is about 1/35th the size of the actual full-size item. For model tanks, the scales 1/35 and 1/48 seem to be the most common, but how do they relate to the scale of Games Workshop models? Most miniature wargaming models are made in 28mm scale. This naming convention comes from the practice of naming the scale off of the height of a humanoid figure, measured from their base to their eyes, or sometimes the top of the head. Differences in measuring conventions led to fairly different scalings across manufacturers, even if they all proclaim to be selling 28mm models. This is partially due to many companies, Games Workshop included, using Heroic scale rather than true scale for their models. With Heroic scale, proportions are exaggerated, like increasing the size of a model’s head or hands. Some of this was initially done due to limitations of mold technology, but the practice never faded away with improved mold making techniques (though current GW models do not look anywhere near as wonky as models from the 80s). If you were to compare the 28mm scale to the conventional fraction scaling, it is somewhere around 1/56. But due to the Heroic scaling of Games Workshop models, 1/56 tanks (Warlord games has a lot) look far too small. This leaves 1/35 and 1/48 as possible solutions for 40k relevant tanks. After struggling to find any pictures comparing the two scales to GW models, I decided to just buy an inexpensive kit to build and compare it to some of my 40k models. I ended up choosing a 1943 T-34 in 1/35 scale, produced by Tamiya; the T-34 being very influential to the WWII and a personal favorite.
|The T-34 in all of its unassuming glory!|
|The T-34 went together really easily, without any assembly issues.|
Comparing the T-34 to space marine tanks
Immediately upon starting to build the T-34, it was clear how differently proportioned it was from Warhammer 40k vehicles. Games Workshop vehicles tend to be very short (and quite tall in the case of a Leman Russ). While the T-34 model was about as broad as a Space Marine Predator, it was far longer, comparable to a Land Raider. The disparity is even more evident when looking at the crew members that came with the kit. They tower over Games Workshop human models, only just being able to fit through the turret hatches. Amazingly, these hatches are almost identical in size to GW hatches, despite 40k models being far smaller. Although I have not spent much time with real life tanks, all of these elements suggest that while real tanks tend to be extremely cramped as well as long and low to the ground (lower center of mass), tanks in the 41st millennium are short, tall and spacious. Furthermore, all of the T-34’s weapons are far smaller than an 40k counterpart (although this comes as no surprise as GW always oversizes its weapons).
|1/35 scale models are clearly larger than GW's 28mm heroic scale models.|
|A space marine and a Skitarii ranger next to the completed T-34.|
|Although smaller, the T-34 is actually as long as a space marine Land raider.|
|Top view of a space marine predator, the T-34, and a Land raider.|
|In terms of size, the 1/35 T-34 sits comfortably in the middle between the smaller predator and the larger Land raider.|
|At a glance, the T-34 seems like a good scale, but ultimately I believe it is too big.|
Having built my first scale model tank, I learned a lot about how the 1/35 scale compares to Games Workshop models. Whether or not it is a good scale for building models to use in 40k, I am not 100 percent decided. While aspects like the hatches look just like GW models, other elements look too large. Ultimately, I think 1/35 scale models would work fine for 40k, considering their tendency for exaggerated proportions. Before trying to build something for the Tor Megiddo project, I plan to put together a 1/48 scale tank for comparison purposes. I still plan to experimenting with painting the T-34 in a desert scheme to practice some weathering and rust effects to prepare for the final model. Let me know if any of you have dabbled in scale models! Any comments or suggestions are welcome!
- Eric Wier