Mark IX Beast

that tank from Indiana Jones

Probably my favourite Indiana Jones film is Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The combination of archaeology, mythology, nazi soldiers and lots of wonderful pulp action. Though we know it wasn’t real, and though we know that there was no actual historical version of it; I am sure most of us who have thought about recreating the Indiana Jones films on the table have wanted to use that tank.

It appears at first glance to be a Mark VIII with a turret, the reality was that it was built specially for the film and was built up from an excavator.

Mechanical effects supervisor George Gibbs said this movie was the most difficult one of his career. He visited a museum to negotiate renting a small French World War I tank, but decided he wanted to make one. The tank was based on the tank Mark VIII, which was thirty-six feet (eleven meters) long, and weighed twenty-five tons. Gibbs built the tank over the framework of a twenty-five ton excavator, and added 6.4 ton tracks, that were driven by two automatic hydraulic pumps, each connected to a Range Rover V8 engine. Gibbs built the tank from steel, rather than aluminum or fiberglass, because it would allow the realistically suspensionless vehicle to endure the rocky surfaces. Unlike its historical counterpart, which had only the two side guns, the tank had a turret gun added as well. It took four months to build, and was transported to Almería on a Short Belfast plane, and then a low loader truck.

I wrote back in 2012 about finding a 28mm model of the tank. I did think about buying it back then, but put off my purchase.

It was originally designed and manufactured by the Honourable Lead Boiler Suit Company (HLBSCo) they were small and relatively new.  So I did some searching on the Google and found that the tank is available today with the other HLBSCo models from Empress Miniatures.

Well I made the leap and have ordered the tank from Empress Miniatures. This is the photograph of the model on their website.

Mark IX Beast

It arrived in a small brown box, but it is quite a big model. The model consists of two large complete track units.

The main hull.

I was impressed with the quality of the sculpting and the castings.

There are separate sponsons as well as the turret and the turret hatch.

You also get as part of this kit, a range of stowage and baggage. When this was sold by Copplestone Castings, the baggage was an add-on extra to the model.

You can break this down into bundles of tarpaulins or other materials (maybe tents) as well as what are probably roles of barbed wire, or telephone cables.

Then there are wooden beams, jerry cans and what look like metal storage containers.

I did start to then look at the original film and stills to see how I could add the stowage to the tank.

A slightly wider shot of the other side of the tank.

The stowage supplied is similar, but doesn’t quite match what we see on the prototype, but this model isn’t supposed to be an exact copy, it’s more like “inspired by” the film tank.

The first stage was to glue the two track units to the main hull. I stuck them together and then used weights to ensure that the join was secure.

I then added the sponsons, one at a time. I also added the turret hatch to the turret and the main weapon. This was a challenging as there wasn’t much of a way to join the main weapon to the turret, so I got the drill out.

I did something similar with the sponson guns.

The periscope (which I worked out from watching the film) was then added, as was all the stowage.

You can see how big this model is compared to other 28mm models. Here it is next to the Bolt Action Citroen Civilian 4,500kg Truck with Canopy.

This is the tank next to my Tally Ho Rolls Royce Armoured Car.

I gave the tank a white undercoat.

I did the underneath first followed by the top.

The turret was undercoated separately.

I started the base coat using Vallejo 70912 Tan Yellow.

Having given the model another look, I think this colour is too dark, especially as I am anticipating giving it a dark wash over the base coat.

that tank from Indiana Jones

What colour I use is dependent on what I have in my box, challenging to buy paints easily at this time.

I also thought looking at the film footage whether I should re-arrange the stowage and baggage.

I did follow the example on the Empress Miniatures website as my guide. So most of the stowage is on the back of the tank.

Mark IX Beast

However looking at the film footage, they didn’t do this on their tank. Most of the stowage is on the sides. There is none on the sponsons, nor on the turret.

Though this side of the tank looks more like the one in the film, from a stowage perspective.

I decided, again looking at the source material that this colour was too dark, especially as I wanted to wash it with a shade or ink.

So I took it back to the garage and gave it a spray of white to cover the basecoat and provide a lighter base for a sandstone or light brown colour.

I didn’t do a full respray as I am quite happy for some of the undersides to be darker than the top of the model.

As for the new base coat, that I am still considering. What colour I use is dependent on what I have in my box, challenging to buy paints easily at this time ( it was April 2020 during covid-19). I have a Flames of War German Camo Beige 821 which looks like it might work.

In the end I decided to use a Citadel Layer colour, Ushabti Bone.

This I was much more impressed with as a base colour, so I finished the entire tank with this paint.

The tracks were painted with Karak Stone. One of the things I noticed from the film, was that the tracks were not that much of a different colour to the body of the tank and were also heavily dusty and weathered.

I painted some of the stowage and canvas coverings on the sponson weapons with Karak Stone.

The wooden beam was was painted with Zandri Dust. I did some of the rolled tarpaulins with Morghast Bone and Wraithbone. I also used a Snakebite Leather Contrast paint for the furry looking blanket.

I painted the straps of some of the kit with XV-88. Most of the ammo containers and jerry cans I painted with Karak Stone.

I used Wraithbone and Morghast Bone for some of the lighter kit.

The tank was then given a wash of Citadel Shade, Seraphim Sepia.