A39 Tortoise
Heavy Assault Tank

1/35 Meng A39 Tortoise Heavy Assault Tank

by Ken Nightingale



Having a fascination with British armour you can imagine my delight when MENG models released their version of the A39 Tortoise.  Prior to this the only option in 1/35th scale was the Accurate Armour resin kit.

The A39 Tortoise was planned and built for the express purpose of breaching the Siegfried Line. Unfortunately the War was over before the first prototype came off the production line and only six vehicles were ever completed. Despite the gun being able to defeat all known armour the Tortoise’s, size, weight and general lack of mobility ultimately doomed it to oblivion. Fortunately for the Armour enthusiast one example remains and is retained in running order at the Amour museum at Bovington.

The kit

Upon opening the box you are greeted with two huge mouldings, (upper and lower hull) and 9 sprues of plastic including four sprues of link track moulded in a light brown colour. There are no clear parts included in the kit. Nor is there any photo etch, so I decided to update the kit using ET Model’s PE for the Tortoise. The kit instructions come as a 14 page booklet and are well presented and easy to read.

The build

The kit went together well , only requiring a small amount of filling on the lower mantlet and at the rear of the casemate. The most laborious part was the construction of the eight massive bogie units and the clean- up of the individual track links. Because a great deal of the track is hidden by the side skirts I decided only to complete enough links to build the visible portion of track.

The tracks and skirts were put aside until after the first top coat was completed. The ET Model photo  etch does a good job of replacing and enhancing kit detail and it was at this stage I decided to complete the kit as a what if version.  So fishing through the spares box I came up with tools and decals to portray what I believe a vehicle belonging to the Royal Engineers would look like.


Painting started with an undercoat of Tamiya NATO black XF69 followed by a top coat of Dark Green XF70. A very light coat of Tamiya Buff  XF57 was then applied from directly above to highlight the  upper surfaces.  The whole model was then painted with a filter made from Burnt Umber oil paint heavily diluted with turpentine, this served to tone down the green and blend the colours.

Modulation of both highlights and shadows was achieved using small dots of oil paints, blue, yellow and brown for shadow and white and yellow for high areas. These dots were then blended using brushes heavily loaded with turpentine and brushed in a downward motion until all colours have been blended. Once this was done to my satisfaction the model was set aside for a couple of days to dry.

Once dry, a coat of Future was applied before the decals were put in place followed by a further coat of Future.


Tools were picked out using Humbrol enamels, Desert Yellow being used for wooden handles and Gunmetal for Pick and shovel heads etc. Once dry a wash of Burnt Umber oils was used to give the look of worn wood and a dirty black wash was applied to the Gunmetal.

The exhaust was first painted with Humbrol flesh before receiving a Burnt Umber wash and several applications of MIG productions pigments. Light and Heavy  Rust and Smoke being used in varying degrees until I was satisfied with the final result.

Several pin washes of Burnt and Light Umber were applied to all raised details and recessed panal lines. Flat areas that would accumulate dirt and mud then received MIG Pigments Earth treatment.

Cam nets and canvas covers were made from medical gauze and brown paper bags and the colours picked out using artist oils.


The tracks received an initial coat of Tamiya Flat Earth XF52 , followed by a coat of NATO Brown XF68 sprayed down the inside centre of the tracks. All areas of the tracks that would then come into contact with either wheels or ground were then touched up with a lead pencil, finally a wash of MIG Light Rust pigment was lightly brushed over the tracks followed by a pin wash of Burnt Umber. The tracks were then applied to the tank along with the side skirts  which had been previously weathered as above.

Finish up

Once the kit was complete a couple more washes were applied to tie all parts together,  detail and high points were dry brushed and areas of wear around the turrets and on handles were picked out with a lead pencil.


This was the first kit from MENG I have completed, but it certainly won’t be my last, the kit went together well has plenty of detail and was of an unusual subject and I was very pleased with the result.

Would it be too much to wish for that MENG might tackle a Chieftain, or Conqueror MBT or maybe even a Ferret Scout car?

The images