Tank Corps uniform World War One

It would have been an omission for me not to include Tank Crew figures in the Tommy’s War range, and they are a subject that has been requested through the years, so I’m delighted to bring to you the following two subjects;

  • TW32049 – Private, 8th Battalion Tank Corps, Amiens 1918
  • TW32050 – Corporal, 8th Battalion, Tank Corps, Amiens 1918

I’ve chosen to represent the figures as later-war crew, simply because tank crew were originally part of the Machine Gun Corps and I wanted to specifically look at the formation, and role, of the Tank Corps.

As with previous figures, they are inspired by an illustration from Osprey Publishings Men-at-Arms series and the wonderful Mike Chappell.

Tank Corps figures 1918. Source; Osprey Publishing Men at Arms, Illustrator Mike Chappell

I selected the two subjects to reflect the casual attitude to uniform operated by the Tank Corps in the period. The tank of the time was a dirty, hot and oppressive environment, as well as being incredibly dangerous and that I think is shown in the images of the period.

Tank Corps crew in 1918 inspecting a German anti-tank rifle captured by Canadian Infantry. Note the different type of uniform worn by the Officer and crew. Image source; Imperial War Museum

Figure TW32050 shows a Corporal of the Tank Corps (the illustration shows a Sergeant). He wears service uniform and trousers and a Brodie helmet. On his helmet he has the red and blue badge for the 8th Battalion (a legacy of when the Machine Gun Corps crewed early tanks) which is reflected on his shoulder titles. He wears his Tank Corps badge on his sleeve above his Corporal chevrons and his overseas service badges are on the lower part of his sleeve.

Notably, he wears a visor, which was issued to tank crew to prevent pieces of metal which would chip off the inside of the vehicle hitting their faces. I was fortunate to see and handle an original one of these last year at Scale Model World, and I can only imagine what it would have been like to drive or fight inside a noisy vehicle in battle.

The second figure wears brown canvas overalls and a soft cap with a Tank Corps badge. The pistol equipment is the 1914 leather pattern.

Why no tank?

I’m going to pre-empt a question that I know I’m going to be asked a lot. I did consider how to represent the figures with a tank. As you can imagine the idea of Tank Corps in 1/32 didn’t sit well as many of the plastic injection moulded vehicle kits (including tanks) are in 1/35 scale.

After a lot of thought I decided to continue with the figures in 1/32 scale as this is the scale the remainder of the range is sculpted in and it’s a scale which I think works best for figure modellers.

So, I then moved onto whether I could create a tank, or part of a tank in 1/32 scale. It was soon clear that a full Mk IV, Mk V or Whippet in 1/32 was simply not viable, it would have taken several thousands of pounds to create such a kit and it would have been very expensive to purchase.

What of part of a tank then? These kits are often called ‘wedgies’ and form part of a vehicle to offer context to a small scenario. Again, I investigated this, but it was again too expensive and too time-consuming.

Therefore, I decided to release the figures in 1/32 scale without a vehicle, but in my mind the figures still ‘work’. The relaxed pose of figure TW32049 suggests a figure not in the front-line and Tank Corps personnel would have spent a lot of time not with their tanks.

So, there we have it. I know I’m not going to please everyone, but anyone that does know me will confirm that I try my best and I take decisions with good faith. Ultimately, the figures are selected and designed to reflect and remember the brave men that crewed these crude vehicles with incredible courage, and I think I’ve achieved that.