By Rob Morgan
It’s about 45 years since a thoughtful girlfriend bought me a copy of John Milsom’s “Russian Tanks 1900-1970” and it’s a book which has long been an active part of my wargaming, especially the OstFront. But I’m a lover of the odd, the unusual, the what-if’s on the table top (it shows doesn’t it?) and the tanks and afv’s in the first chapter of Milsom’s book on “Pre-Revolutionary Concepts” have long been some of those I’ve wanted to see created by a bold manufacturer. I was discussing a couple of them, in 15mm rather than 1/72nd, with Mick Yarrow not long ago.
I owe it to my son who showed me a short five-minute programme on YouTube. It’s easy to find as it’s headed:
1/72 Kora Models Lebechenko Tsar-Tank
For which read Lebedenko, who was the Russian war minister in 1915, and headed this inspired “secret” project. Basically, it was a huge assembly like a gun carriage with two 30’ spoked wheels at the front, a big roller at the rear and a turret assembly amidships on which the gun or guns were to be carried. Milsom has a rather grainy photo of the 40-ton Tsar Tank.
The Kora model, of resin, looks straightforward enough, but not all that sturdy for a wargame maybe? It’s a first in any case, but the cost in US dollars seems massive. Perhaps that’s the import duty? The price in €uros is 150, also a great deal, but rather less naturally.
The range has several other fascinating “tanks” or might-have-been afv’s. In the same scale, Kora make the Russian Mendeleev Project No. 1, an armoured box on tracks with a small turret and a naval gun at the business end; it might have worked, no less bizarre than the French St. Chamond. There was a second tank which differed slightly. The range includes three German A7V’s, (?) but they’d have to be very, very good to beat the excellent EmHar kit at well under £10. All are resin by the way, and I’ve no idea of the quality. The German WWI afv list includes something called a Kolossal Wagen, a vast landship with heavy guns, and curved armour, another “project.” Finally, the Kora 1/72nd British concrete and ship project, a huge semi-wheeled afv which looks fearsome, but did it exist beyond the drawing board, and could it have worked?
Not a range of tank models, albeit in a good wargames scale, which I’m likely to encounter in the local model shop, and certainly not likely to buy, but isn’t it often the case that one brave venture leads to another? Who knows, maybe these “projects” will turn up in metal in 15mm or 6mm? There were a number of Russian afv projects at the start of WWI, some imaginative like the rather elegant and potentially useful Vezdekhod tracked mg-armed one-man tankette. There was a Vexdekhod No. 2 as well, a rather more solid tank; and a series of half-tracked armoured cars. Maybe we’ll see these at a more affordable price? The same goes for the German efforts, of course, and even though the usefulness of these giants to the wargamer is, shall we say, limited, it is good to see the less well known and overlooked armour of the Great War dealt with by somebody!